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Phillips 66 appeals $37,800 state fine for acid leak at its refinery near Ferndale

Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery, July 6, 2017.
Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery, July 6, 2017. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Phillips 66 is appealing its $37,800 fine for a February acid leak at its refinery that sent seven workers to the hospital.

The company was fined $6,300 each for six violations that the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries deemed as “serious.”

Phillips 66 appealed the fine on June 23, as well as L&I’s “serious” designations.

A hearings officer will decide the matter by Aug. 28, according to L&I spokeswoman Elaine Fischer.

Six contractors and a Phillips employee were taken to St. Joseph hospital after hydrofluoric acid was released at the refinery at 3901 Unick Road on Feb. 10. The leak occurred in the alkylation unit.

Six of the workers were released hours after being admitted, and the seventh left the hospital Feb. 16, refinery officials have said.

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Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery, July 6, 2017. Philip A. Dwyer pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Among its findings, L&I said Phillips “did not implement safe work practices for the control of hazards for the employees” and the company “did not inform the contract employer of the known potential fire, explosion or toxic release hazards related to the contractor’s work and the process.”

Phillips disagreed, saying a contractor was at fault.

“The incident in question occurred when a trained contractor improperly disconnected an enclosed rod out tool from an open drain valve in the alkylation unit,” Phillips stated in its appeal.

“The incident was not caused by the failure to develop or implement safe work practices, but by a contractor’s failure to follow them,” the company added.

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Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery, July 6, 2017. Philip A. Dwyer pdwyer@bhamherald.com

The refinery processes a variety of domestic and foreign crude oils, including Alaskan North Slope, Canadian and U.S. shale. The 850-acre facility was built in 1954.

More than 400 employees, including on-site contractors, work there, according to Phillips’ website.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

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