The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Plains Gas Solutions LLC in Eunice, LA, for one “willful” and seven “serious” violations involving OSHA’s process safety management standards following an explosion and fire that severely burned a worker earlier this year.

OSHA began its investigation Feb. 29 at the company’s facility on Fournat Road in Eunice, which specializes in the production of liquid natural gas through a cryogenic process. The incident occurred while employees were restarting the process (see Daily GPI, Feb. 28). Cryogenic liquids were improperly routed through equipment not rated to withstand extreme cold temperatures, resulting in the explosion and fire, the agency said.

“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 area director in Baton Rouge, LA. “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, OSHA said. “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 providing a process hazard analysis addressing low temperature deviations, ensuring that operating procedures are kept current, completing incident investigation reports and establishing a consistent method of documenting changes in the process, OSHA said. “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. The citations carry proposed penalties of $111,000. 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.

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