SUPERIOR, WI – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Superior Refining Company LLC – based in Superior, Wisconsin – for failing to control the use and release of highly hazardous chemicals after an explosion and fire injured several employees. The company faces $83,150 in proposed penalties.
Investigators cited the refinery for eight serious violations of OSHA’s process safety management procedures.
“Ensuring the mechanical integrity of critical equipment used during the refinery shutdown operation could have prevented this incident,” said OSHA Eau Claire Area Office Director Mark Hysell. “Superior Refining Company LLC has been working cooperatively with OSHA to ensure a comprehensive process safety management program is implemented at the facility before resuming production.”
Six injured workers were taken to the hospital, while seven others were treated at the scene. Local hospitals claimed there were 16 patients in all treated for evacuation-related injuries. The evacuation zone spanned more than 70 square miles.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.
Meanwhile, the company is also being sued by residents in connection with the incident.
The complaint – filed in August in Madison federal court by lead attorney Patricia Bloodgood on behalf of three named residents – claims Husky Energy and Superior Refining failed to exercise routine prudence and take proper maintenance measures leading up to the explosion in Superior, forcing the plaintiffs and their families to evacuate the area.
They allege claims of negligence, nuisance, trespass and strict liability, and seek damages not limited to evacuation-related expenses, lost wages and interference with property rights.
The April 26 incident involved a series of explosions and a massive asphalt fire that began around 10 a.m., according to the complaint.
Photo credit: Jed Carlson / email@example.com A Gold Cross Ambulance speeds past the road block on Hill Ave as a different ambulance speeds away from the scene after an explosion at Husky Energy in Superior.