Port Neches, Texas – TPC Group LLC is facing a potential fine of more than a half a million dollars (€450 million) by the federal government for an explosion in November last year.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the US Department of Labor has proposed a fine of $514,692 for TPC for exposing employees "to workplace safety and health hazards" following the fire, the federal agency said 27 May.
The Port Neches facility was rocked 27 Nov when vapour formed and ignited at the base of a butadiene finishing tower. There were several explosions and fires at the facility, OSHA said.
"OSHA cited TPC for three wilful violations for failing to develop and implement procedures for emergency shutdown, and inspect and test process vessel and piping components," the agency said in a statement.
TPC has 15 business days to comply, contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission or seek a conference with OSHA's area director. The review commission is an independent group.
The facility has an annual extraction capacity of 426 kilotonnes, which is about 17% of all US capacity, according to previous reports.
Two TPC workers and a contractor were injured. Approximately 60,000 residents were evacuated after the explosion and were allowed to return four days later.
It was just about two months later that the Unified Command response to the explosion, including state, local and company officials, stood down and turned management of the situation over to the company solely.
"TPC Group has a highly skilled and dedicated team managing the response efforts, and they have demonstrated the capability and competency to manage this event and bring it safely to an end," Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said then.
County judges in Texas also serve as chief administrators for their jurisdictions.
"This is a significant milestone in the community's and TPC Group's progress toward recovery. Our focus has always been on community and site safety in protection of health and the environment, and those objectives continue to be met," Branick said at the time.