OSHA Cites Plains Gas Solutions After Explosion Severely Injures Worker

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An explosion and fire at a liquid natural gas processing plant that seriously burned a worker could cost Plains Gas Solutions a $110,000 fine under a proposed settlement Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA.

OSHA cited Plains Gas Solutions in Eunice, La., on 27 August 2012 for one willful and seven serious violations involving OSHA’s process safety management standards following an explosion and fire that severely burned a worker.

An explosion and fire at natural gas processing plant lead to a proposed fine from OSHA

A natural gas processing plant

The 29 Feb. 2012 explosion and fire took place at the Plains Gas Solutions’ facility on Fournat Road in Eunice, La.

The plant specializes in the production of liquid natural gas through a cryogenic process. The explosion occurred while employees were restarting the process.

Cryogenic liquids were improperly routed through equipment not rated to withstand extreme cold temperatures, resulting in the explosion and fire.

“Process safety management prevents the unexpected release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals,” said Dorinda Folse, OSHA’s area director in Baton Rouge. “The terrible incident that occurred at this facility could have been prevented had the company adhered to OSHA’s standards.”

The willful violation is for failing to conduct an analysis of pre-startup safety conditions and systematically managing changes to process-related technology, equipment, procedures and facilities.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Serious violations include failing to ensure the accuracy of process safety and provide a process hazard analysis addressing low temperature deviations, ensure that operating procedures are kept current, complete incident investigation reports and establish a consistent method of documenting changes in the process.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Plains Gas Solutions is a subsidiary of Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline LP, which employs about 3,800 workers in Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

View OSHA Citation

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/PlainsGasSolutions.pdf.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Baton Rouge or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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