ExxonMobil was fined $566,600 last month by California state regulators for incurring nineteen workplace safety violations after the explosion of the company’s Torrance refinery.
Eighteen of the workplace safety violations were marked as serious because they could result in the death of a worker. Furthermore, six of the citations were categorized as willful because ExxonMobil knew about the issues and deliberately chose not to take action. Clyde Trombettas, an official in the Department of Industrial Relations, said that one willful citation is fairly rare, but six is unheard of.
The amount and severity of citations peaked the interest of the District Attorney’s office and they have since requested copies of the citations. A spokeswoman for DA’s office stated that the agency does not usually announce the initiation of a criminal investigation.
According to Cal/OSHA, the explosion was caused by a malfunction in the refinery’s fluid catalytic cracker unit. The faulty unit released hydrocarbons into its electrostatic precipitator, which caused the hydrocarbons to ignite. The blast injured 4 workers and was felt throughout the city.
Cal/OSHA’s investigation found that the fluid catalytic cracker unit “had not been working properly for as many as nine years prior to the incident”. The investigation also revealed that, as far back as 2007, ExxonMobil knew about the leak in the fluid catalytic cracker unit and the potential for an explosion but chose to do nothing.
The fine is the maximum allowed by Cal/OSHA for workplace safety violations, according to Trombettas, and only the state Legislature can increase it. Trombettas went on to say that ExxonMobil has mended the problems addressed by the citations.
If you have been injured due to negligence and are in need of a personal injury lawyer in southern California, please contact the Booth & Koskoff office nearest you for a free personal injury case evaluation.
Information Source: The Daily Breeze, 13 Aug 2015.