Tesoro bars federal safety agency from East Bay refinery
Jaxon Van Derbeken Updated 7:53 am, Friday, February 21, 2014
. The North Gate of the Tesoro Refinery in Pacheco, CA Thursday, February 20, 2014.After the state shut down the gas-refining unit of the Tesoro refinery in the wake of an accident in which two workers were sprayed with acid, the company is now barring federal investigators from going on the property. Photo: Michael Short, Special To The Chronicle (02-21) 07:51 PST PACHECO — In an unprecedented challenge, Tesoro Corp. has barred federal authorities from going inside its refinery near Martinez to investigate an incident in which two workers were burned by acid spewing from a broken pipe, The Chronicle has learned.
State officials ordered a partial shutdown of the Golden Eagle Refinery following the Feb. 12 incident after inspectors with California’s workplace safety agency found numerous suspected safety violations, state officials said.
The investigators with Cal/OSHA went to the plant at 150 Solano Way in the unincorporated community of Pacheco when a pipe containing sulfuric acid burst, spraying the two workers in the face with the caustic chemical. The two were flown by helicopter to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where they were treated for first- and second-degree burns and released later that day.
On Feb. 18, Cal/OSHA ordered Tesoro to shut down the section of the refinery where the pipe was located until the company reviews its operations, shows how it protects workers against acid spills and conducts refresher training. The unit adds octane boosters to refined gasoline.
Investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, the lead federal agency in major chemical-plant accidents, showed up a day after the incident and gained access to the refinery grounds. However, Tesoro has rebuffed federal investigators’ subsequent requests to return to the refinery, agency officials said Thursday.
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Jaxon Van Derbeken is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org