Another acid leak at Tesoro refinery

Less than a month after two workers were injured in an acid leak at a Tesoro refinery in Martinez, Calif., two more workers were burned in another acid leak at the same refinery. The second workers were injured on March 10 when they cut into a sulfuric acid pipe as part of planned maintenance, the Sacramento Bee reported.

“The men were initially protected from injury by their protective suits, but some acid remained on the garments and drained onto their necks after the men took decontamination showers,” other workers told SFGate.

The workers injured in the previous leak were not wearing similar protective gear, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). CSB is investigating the incidents, although in February Tesoro blocked CSB investigators from the site and refused to preserve the first scene.

The company eventually allowed investigators back on the grounds, SFGate reported. “But the company ‘has yet to provide some of the key documents sought’ and did not preserve some evidence from the incident,” CSB spokesperson Hillary Cohen told SFGate.

In 2012, Tesoro dropped out of two volunteer worker-safety programs, reported the Contra Costa Times. One was the “Triangle of Prevention” program developed by the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union and continued by the United Steelworkers. The other program was the “Voluntary Protection Program,” which is a cooperative program with the California Division of Occupational Safety & Health. Refinery spokesperson Tina Barbee told the Times that the refinery had replaced the Triangle of Prevention program with a system that has “better root cause analysis during incident investigation,” and that it was technically ineligible to participate in the Voluntary Protection Program.

A survey of refinery workers, however, indicated that safety conditions had deteriorated at the site since 2007,” United Steelworkers representative Tracy Scott told the Times.

The two acid leaks come on the heels of a CSB draft report on a 2010 fire at a Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Wash.. That incident killed seven workers. CSB has released two videos about that incident, “Animation of Explosion at Tesoro’s Anacortes Refinery” and “The Human Cost of Gasoline.”

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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