A series of explosions and a small fine. Is this right? Approximately $13,000 dollars per fine and people were injured.
Federal investigators have cited Westlake Chemical and three other companies for several safety violations linked to a Sept. 27 explosion that injured nearly two dozen workers at a Westlake Chemical plant near Lake Charles. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found 11 violations, including allowing dangerous work in confined spaces, exposing workers to harmful chemicals and failing to perform equipment inspections at Westlake Petrochemical, an ethylene, styrene and polyethylene manufacturer in Sulphur, about eight miles west of Lake Charles. OSHA is proposing a total of $139,000 worth of fines for Westlake and companies with employees working at the large petrochemical complex.nola.com
There were four citations.
The citations were issued as follows: Turn2 Specialty Companies of La Porte, Texas: four violations, $58,000, Westlake Chemical of Houston: three violations, $30,000 , Leak Sealers Inc. of Lumberton, Texas: two violations, $26,000 and Wastewater Specialties of Sulphur: Two serious violations, $25,000. At least 23 workers are suing Westlake for burns, broken bones and other wounds. “Employers are responsible for ensuring employees have a safe workplace by having the correct confined space permits and a plan in place to inspect equipment to prevent serious injuries,” said Roderic Chube, an OSHA regional director based in Baton Rouge. “Employers should also make sure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of benzene in excess of the permissible exposure limits.” A similar explosion happened at a nearby Westlake plant, known as Lake Charles South, on Jan. 26. The blast shook the Lake Charles area, injured six workers and forced a dozen schools to shelter in place to prevent exposure to toxic gases.
No one wants to discuss these fines and the history if the plants make this action seem small.
OSHA did not address the more recent explosion in its announcement on Thursday of violations related to the September incident. Westlake has declined to discuss the explosions. A Westlake spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the OSHA violations. Four Westlake plants near Lake Charles have a long track records of chemical spills, fires, air quality violations, failed safety inspections and dangerous accidents. Environmental groups and community activists have long urged state and federal regulators to issue stiffer penalties and conduct more frequent inspections.
Obviously the plants and owners have learned nothing.