A chemical manufacturer has been cited by federal officials for workplace safety hazards and fined more than $500,000 after a fire and explosions at its Port Neches, Texas, plant in November 2019.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Houston-based Texas Petroleum Chemicals, or TPC Group LLC, for exposing employees to workplace safety and health hazards. The company faces a total of $514,692 in fines.
OSHA opened an investigation after vapor formed at the base of a butadiene finishing tower ignited and caused several explosions and fires. The explosion and fire prompted widespread evacuation in Port Neches, Nederland and northern Port Arthur during the week of Thanksgiving.
OSHA cited TPC for three willful violations for failing to develop and implement procedures for emergency shutdown, and inspect and test process vessel and piping components.
TPC has been sued by the state of Texas over environmental violations associated with the Nov. 27 explosion. The suit in Travis County, Texas, also alleges the Houston-based company violated clean air laws multiple times from January 2018 to September 2019.
According to The Texas Tribune, TPC has been considered a high priority violator by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for several years, and been out of compliance with federal clean air laws since the agency’s inspection in August 2017. The Tribune reported that state data shows the facility spewed more air pollution than allowed by its government-issued permits five times in 2019.
TPC has 15 business days from receipt of the OSHA citation and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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