The blast occurred at K-Resin, a facility used to make resins for consumer products. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited 50 violations of safety standards, including 30 willful violations that carry a fine of $70,000 each.
According to OSHA, the explosion was the result of a runaway chemical reaction in a 12,000 gal. tank containing butadiene, which is used to make synthetic rubber. The tank was out of service for cleaning and had no pressure or temperature gauges to alert workers. Workers were unaware of the potential for explosion.
The proposed fines follow a six-month investigation. The agency concluded that a key factor in the explosion and fire was the company's failure to train workers. The site has been subject to 46 OSHA investigations, and three inspections in 1999 were related to explosions.
Phillips Petroleum Co., doing business at the site as Phillips Chemical Co., has been succeeded by Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., LP.