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Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery hit with $324,000 fine

Shown here is work being done last summer at the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery to install a 199-foot-tall flare system to improve energy efficiency. The company was fined $324,000 by the state on Friday, Jan. 15, for workplace violations.
Shown here is work being done last summer at the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery to install a 199-foot-tall flare system to improve energy efficiency. The company was fined $324,000 by the state on Friday, Jan. 15, for workplace violations. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

The Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery was hit with a $324,000 fine by the state for several workplace violations revolving around fire and hazardous chemical safety.

The refinery received the fine for violations that took place in 2014 and were not corrected, according to a news release from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

The 2014 citations are under appeal, but state law requires employers to correct hazards even if the violations are under appeal, according to L&I.

The original fines in 2014 totaled $20,500, said Elaine Fischer, a spokeswoman at the state agency. The new fine is a result of state inspectors visiting the refinery in June 2015 and finding that no changes had been made.

The refinery was cited for three violations, each carrying a $108,000 fine. Two involve the refinery’s firefighting and fire suppression systems. According to the state agency, Phillips 66 did not inspect or follow recognized and generally accepted engineering practices for the firefighting water tank or the buried firefighting water distribution piping. The company also failed to address the potential loss of firefighting water, according to the report.

The third violation involved not consulting industry material before writing a policy about chemical piping. Following the company’s policies potentially could expose workers to hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas, and other flammable vapors, according to L&I.

In an email, Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery spokesman Jeff Callender said company officials were disappointed by the announcement from the agency and believe there is a misunderstanding related to the citations. They plan to continue to work cooperatively with the agency through the appeals process.

“The safety of the community, the environment and our people are of the utmost importance to our company and these priorities guide our efforts in everything we do,” said Callender, who did not comment beyond the written statement.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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