Shell pays $130 000 fine in Texas blast

18 December 1997 17:22  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (CNI)--Shell Chemical told CNI Thursday it has agreed to pay $130 000 in penalties for alleged safety violations stemming from last summer's explosion at the company's Deer Park, Texas olefins plant.

"We decided not to challenge the citations," said Shell spokesman Dennis Winkler, emphasising the spectre of high costs from litigation against the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency that conducted an investigation of the mishap.

Winkler said: "We want to focus instead on rebuilding the unit."

He said that reconstruction remains on schedule and should be complete before April. Shell has no figures available yet detailing the cost of rebuilding at Deer Park, he said.

In its official statement about the penalties, OSHA said it cited Shell for "violations of the process safety management standard, and standards for respiratory protection and facility alarms."

OSHA said Shell agreed to correct the problems and to install a computer-based "near miss" reporting system. The company also will provide workers with additional training in recognising hazards at the plant, OSHA said.

"These steps by Shell with full support and co-operation of the local Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW) will significantly reduce the possibility of such explosions in the future," said Raymond Skinner, area director of OSHA's Houston South Areas office.

Winkler told CNI that the improvements suggested by OSHA represent "enhancements" to the safety programme already in place at the plant.

No one died in the explosion that shook the plant 22 June but some employees were injured. The destruction has sidelined production.

By: Gary Taylor
+1 713 525 2653

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