An oil refining company has settled a case with New Mexico OSHA over a 2010 fire and explosion that killed two workers and seriously injured two others.
Navajo Refining agrees to pay $400,000 but admits no wrongdoing (see PDF). The fine is the largest ever issued by New Mexico OSHA.
On March 2, 2010, a storage tank exploded at Navajo’s plant in Artesia, NM.
Employees of Northwest Insulation of Texas were welding on top of the tank. A welder ignited vapors from flammable liquids inside the tank.
The explosion ripped off the tank’s top.
All the workers killed or injured worked for Northwest. The Texas company was also fined by New Mexico OSHA, but it settled its case with the state in 2011. Both companies have provided documentation of actions taken to correct all violations. The refinery is subject to a follow-up inspection to verify that it has done so.
New Mexico originally fined Navajo $707,000 for 10 willful and 1 serious violations. The violations included:
- failure to train employees to recognize explosive hazards
- failure to maintain fire prevention prevention program
- allowing workers to conduct welding in the presence of flammable vapors.
The $400,000 settlement is a 43% reduction of the original fine.