Washington, DC, February 17, 2007 – An investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying to the Valero McKee refinery near Dumas, Texas, north of Amarillo, where an explosion yesterday injured a number of workers and forced the shutdown of the facility.
CSB investigator Jim Lay, PE, will lead a field team of at least three investigators, who will assess the circumstances of the incident to determine if a larger investigation is necessary. Supervisory investigator Don Holmstrom will accompany the team, which is expected to arrive in west Texas late today.
Early news media reports indicate that an explosion Friday afternoon in a propane deasphalting unit injured a number of workers, including four who remained hospitalized, and forced the shutdown and evacuation of the refinery. No fatalities were reported.
A propane deasphalting unit uses propane to extract refinable materials from the tarry residue generated by a crude oil unit.
In November 2006, the CSB completed a one-year investigation of the asphyxiation deaths of two workers at the Valero Delaware City refinery, and in May 2006 a CSB team did an assessment of a fire in the diesel hydrotreater unit at the Valero St. Charles refinery in Louisiana.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in safety regulations, codes, standards, management systems, training, and industry practices.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. For more information, please visit our website, www.csb.gov.
Media contact: Director of Public Affairs Daniel Horowitz at (202) 441-6074 cell.