Deaths and Injuries at Phillips Refineries and Chemical Plants

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Conoco and Phillips 66 announced on November 18, 2001 that their boards of directors had unanimously approved a definitive agreement for a "merger of equals". The merged company, ConocoPhillips, became the third-largest integrated U.S. energy company based on market capitalization and oil and gas reserves and production. On November 11, 2011 ConocoPhillips announced that Phillips 66 would be the name of a new independent oil and gasoline refining and marketing firm, created as ConocoPhillips split into two companies. ConocoPhillips kept the current name of the company and concentrated on oil exploration and production side while Phillips 66 included refining, marketing, midstream, and chemical portions of the company. Photo: Hugh Pickens all rights reserved.

by Hugh Pickens, Ponca City Oklahoma


The purpose of this report is to provide a comprehensive overview of Phillips 66 that documents and explains the company's business strategy and execution of that strategy.

Major Sections of this report on Phillips 66 include:

Safety, Environment, Legal


Corporate


Strategic and Financial


Business Segments


Stock Market


Reference

Refining Business Segment


Increasing Profitability in Refining Business Segment


Detailed Look at Ponca City Refinery


Other Phillips Refineries


Other Locations


Contents

Master Index of Articles about Phillips 66

The 587 foot tall Mammoet PTC 140 crane, seen here from North First Street, towers over the Refinery Complex in Ponca City. The supercrane was used to move two new 232 ton coker reactor units within the refinery on September 29, 2013. Phillips was willing to invest $70 million in the two new coker reactor units because the Ponca City Refinery is one of the best run, safest, and most profitable of Phillips' fifteen worldwide refineries and Garland wants the refinery in Ponca City to continue to run smoothly and profitably. This photograph of the supercrane in Ponca City was taken from almost two miles away from the crane. Photo: Hugh Pickens All Rights Reserved.
Hugh Pickens, an analyst who closely follows Phillips 66, speaks with Phillips CEO Greg Garland (right) about the disposition of the North Tower, South Tower, and Research West at Phillips' Ponca City Refinery after Garland's speech to the Bartlesville Chamber of Commerce on August 13, 2014.

by Hugh Pickens, Ponca City Oklahoma


The purpose of this report is to provide a comprehensive overview of Phillips 66 that documents and explains the company's business strategy and execution of that strategy.

Major Sections of this report on Phillips 66 include:

Safety, Environment, Legal


Corporate


Strategic and Financial


Business Segments


Stock Market


Reference

Refining Business Segment


Increasing Profitability in Refining Business Segment


Detailed Look at Ponca City Refinery


Other Phillips Refineries


Other Locations


Deaths and Injuries at Phillips Refineries and Chemical Plants

Since 1979 there have been twenty-eight Phillips workers killed on the job and over 400 injuries at Phillips plants and refineries worldwide.

July 7, 2018: Phillips 66 Shuts Down Alliance Refinery to Recover Body of Refinery Worker Killed in Accident

Worker Dies in Accident at Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery Jerome Matthews, a refinery worker at the Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery near Belle Chasse, died on July 4, 2018, and emergency personnel retrieved the body Saturday evening (July 7) following a shutdown of the facility.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on July 7, 2018 that Jerome Matthews, a refinery worker at the Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery near Belle Chasse, died this week in an accident at the refinery, and emergency personnel retrieved the body Saturday evening (July 7) following a shutdown of the facility. Floyd Young, who worked with Matthews for refinery contractor HydroChemPSC, described what took place to Fox 8. "He was working the night shift. There were three of us. It was very slippery and nasty on top of the tower where we were working, and he was grabbing the hose and he slipped and fell into the coolant tower," Young said.

Phillips 66 spokesman Dennis Nuss said said the incident happened around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and involved an employee of HydroChemPSC who was working in a basin of the refinery's primary cooling tower. Matthews was seen falling into the water basin, which is about 15 feet deep. Attempts to recover Matthews' body were unsuccessful, and a deliberate shutdown of the refinery began in order to allow emergency responders safe access to the basin. The shutdown process takes at least 48 hours in order to assure safe access to the cooling tower basin. The shutdown was completed Saturday night, and Matthews' remains were recovered and turned over to the Plaquemines Parish coroner, according to Phillips 66.

The company said it is investigating to determine what caused the accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is involved in the investigation of the accident. Jerome Matthews left behind a wife and two children. He had only worked a few months for HydroChemPSC but had several years of experience. "If he knew he was in a situation that could cost him his life, he wouldn't of stayed in that type of environment," Matthews' widow Racquel told Fox 8.[1]

July 4, 2018: Worker Dies in Accident at Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on July 7, 2018 that a refinery worker was killed in an accident at the Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery near Belle Chasse on July 4, 2018. Phillips 66 spokesman Dennis Nuss said said the incident happened around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and involved an employee of HydroChemPSC who was working in a basin of the refinery's primary cooling tower. The worker, who was not identified, was seen falling into the water basin, which is about 15 feet deep.[2]

February 26, 2018: Lawsuits Filed Over Contractor's Death at the Phillips 66 Partners Paradis Pipeline Station

Houma Today reported on February 26, 2018 that Phillips 66 and the widow of Josh Helms, killed on February 9, 2017 in a natural gas pipeline explosion at the Phillips 66 Partners Paradis Pipeline Station, have filed lawsuits in state District Court in Thibodaux against Blanchard Contractors and its insurers. Mandy Helms is suing individually and on behalf of her minor daughter. According to the lawsuits, a Blanchard employee opened or operated valves without making sure they were aligned. This caused the release of natural gas and, subsequently, an explosion, the lawsuits say. Phillips 66 says it lost everything at the station. The company is suing for unspecified damages, including emergency response, cleaning, building temporary re-routing facilities, and replacing and rebuilding structures and equipment. Mandy Helms is also suing for unspecified damages, including loss of income and medical and psychological services related to her husband’s death. Phillips 66 said six people were working at the site when the fire occurred: three of its employees and three contract workers from the Cut Off-based Blanchard Contractors. Two contract workers were taken to area hospitals.[3]

July 7, 2017: Phillips 66 Blames Contractor for Hydrofluoric Acid Leak at Ferndale Refinery That Sent 7 Workers to the Hospital

The Bellingham Herald reported on July 7, 2017 that Phillips 66 is appealing its $37,800 fine for a February hydrofluoric acid leak at its Ferndale Refinery that sent seven workers to the hospital. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries deemed the incident as “serious" and found that 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 disagrees with the assessment of the fine, 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." A hearings officer will decide the matter by Aug. 28, according to L&I spokeswoman Elaine Fischer.[4]

July 1, 2017: Two Oil Tanker Crashes Raise Concerns About Safety of Oil Trucks Going to Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery

Two Oil Tanker Crashes Raise Concerns About Safety of Oil Trucks Going to Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery. the recent crash of a tanker truck carrying 6,200 gallons of highly-flammable crude oil to Phillips 66's Santa Maria Refinery has raised concerns about the 52 trucks a day carrying thousands of gallons of crude that rumble through San Luis Obispo County to the Phillips 66 refinery on the Nipomo Mesa for at least another year. Another Phillips 66 oil tanker crash occurred last fall that ended in a driver’s death. Photo Cal Fire SLO

The Tribune reported on July 1, 2017 that the recent crash of a tanker truck carrying 6,200 gallons of highly-flammable crude oil to Phillips 66's Santa Maria Refinery has raised concerns about the 52 trucks a day carrying thousands of gallons of crude that rumble through San Luis Obispo County to the Phillips 66 refinery on the Nipomo Mesa for at least another year. The crash occurred 2.5 miles from its destination at the Phillips 66 refinery when the brakes went out and it rolled off the road to avoid a car. No one was injured, and less than a gallon of oil spilled. “It gives us concern that if that happened before, it will happen again. That’s just the inevitability of it,” said Laurance Shinderman, of Nipomo, who is active in the Mesa Refinery Watch Group. The intersection of Willow Road and Highway 1 where the semitruck crashed last week is frequented by tanker trucks and is a concern to local residents like Shinderman, who witness cars zooming by in low visibility sometimes caused by low-lying fog. They are especially concerned because of a sharp right turn near the intersection.

Another Phillips 66 oil tanker crash occurred last fall that ended in a driver’s death. According to the California Highway Patrol, Elias Garcia, 45, of Bakersfield had just unloaded his truck when his wife called to check on him about 2 a.m. Sept. 13, 2016. Garcia told her he was tired and on his way home. He never made it. Officers suspect he fell asleep at the wheel around 7:30 a.m. on Highway 166 near New Cuyama. The tanker swerved over the double-yellow lines and slammed into several oncoming trucks. He was ejected into a dirt field and pronounced dead at the scene.

Hundreds of tanker trucks have been delivering oil to Santa Maria Refinery, and to a pump station in Santa Maria to fill a supply gap created by the shutdown of the Plains All American Pipeline in Santa Barbara County in May 2015. The district last year issued a notice of violation to the company for violating Health and Safety Code and county rules by failing to inform the county about the refinery receiving oil trucks. Phillips 66 wracked up civil penalties for 61 days that could have been assessed at up to $610,000. It settled the violation with the county in May by agreeing to pay $15,914 to the district.[5]

February 22, 2017: Victim of Hydrofluoric Acid Leak at Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery Released from Hospital

The Bellingham Herald reported on February 22, 2017 that the Phillips 66 contractor who was hospitalized after a hydrofluoric acid leak at Phillips 66's Ferndale Refinery earlier this month has been released, Dennis Nuss, a company spokesman, said in an email. Six other workers – five contractors and a Phillips employee – were also taken to St. Joseph Hospital after hydrofluoric acid was released at the refinery and were released hours after being admitted. Phillips 66 has not released the man’s name or the nature of his injuries. The cause of the leak remains under investigation, Nuss said.[6]

February 17, 2017: Remains of Missing Worker Recovered After Phillip 66 Pipeline Explosion

The Times-Picayune reported on February 17, 2017 that the remains of pipeline worker Josh Helms, who had been missing since the February 9 explosion at a Philips 66 pipeline in Paradis, have been recovered, according to Louisiana State Police Troop B spokeswoman Melissa Matey. Six workers, including Helms, were cleaning the pipeline when the fire erupted around 7 p.m. February 9. Two were taken to the hospital with injuries, including a contract worker who was later flown to a burn unit in Baton Rouge, according to St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said. The other worker was released from the hospital. "The Phillips 66 family is saddened by the loss of our colleague, Josh Helms," the company wrote on its Facebook page. "We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends."[7]

February 12, 2017: Missing Worker Believed Dead in Phillips 66 Pipeline Blast in Louisiana

Reuters reported that Josh Helms, of Thibodaux, Louisiana, missing since a Thursday night explosion at a Phillips 66 natural gas liquids pipeline station in Louisiana is believed dead, the company said. The body of the missing worker is thought to be near the site of the fire, which continued to burn on Saturday, Phillips 66 said in a statement. The blaze, though reduced in size, still prevented searchers from reaching the site on Saturday. Helms joined Phillips 66 when the company acquired the River Parish pipeline system in November. Helms has worked on pipelines for eight years.[8]

February 12, 2017: One Worker Remains Hospitalized After HydroFluoric Acid Leak at Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery

One Worker Remains Hospitalized After HydroFluoric Acid Leak at Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery. According to a report from the Center for Public Integrity, Hydrofluoric acid, known for its ability to race long distances in a cloud, is extremely toxic. It causes lung congestion, inflammation and severe burns of the skin and digestive tract. It attacks the eyes and bones. Experiments in 1986 detected the acid at potentially deadly levels almost two miles from the point of release. The Phillips 66 refinery in Ponca City is one of three refineries in Oklahoma that use Hydrofluoric acid. The HF Alkylation Unit (Alky) at Ponca City Refinery uses hydrofluoric (HF) acid as a catalyst to promote the reaction of olefin with isobutane to form high-octane gasoline blending components. A few companies, under pressure from advocacy groups and regulators, have switched to a modified form of the acid, which still poses significant risks to workers and communities but is less likely to travel as far.

Reuters reported that one contract worker remained hospitalized on Saturday after a hydrofluoric acid leak at Phillips 66's Ferndale, Washington, refinery on Friday, the company said in a statement. The leak was from the refinery's alkylation unit according to a report on the Bellingham Herald newspaper website. Alkylation units are considered the most dangerous in a refinery because a release of hydrofluoric acid from an explosion or fire could spread a possibly lethal vapor cloud across surrounding communities.[9]

Dangers of Hydrofluoric Acid

According to a report from the Center for Public Integrity, Hydrofluoric acid, known for its ability to race long distances in a cloud, is extremely toxic. It causes lung congestion, inflammation and severe burns of the skin and digestive tract. It attacks the eyes and bones. Experiments in 1986 detected the acid at potentially deadly levels almost two miles from the point of release. Despite decades-old warnings that the compound, commonly called HF, could cause mass casualties — and despite the availability of a safer alternative — 50 of the nation’s 148 refineries continue to rely on it. At least 16 million Americans, many of them unaware of the threat, live in the potential path of HF if it were to be released in an accident or a terrorist attack, a joint investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News has found. The government maintains closely controlled reports outlining worst-case scenarios involving highly hazardous chemicals. The Center reviewed reports for the 50 refineries that use HF. The reports describe the most extreme accidents anticipated by the plants’ owners. The information is not published and is not easily accessible by the public.

According to a report from the Center for Public Integrity, the refining industry plays down the risks of Hydrofluoric acid, saying it has adequate safeguards in place and the chances of a catastrophic accident at any one location are slim. “There hasn’t been any HF release that has impacted the communities,” said Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association. “We’ve controlled them.” The industry should take the threat more seriously, said Paul Orum, a chemical safety consultant who works with public-interest groups. “These are low-probability, high-consequence events, which is why any individual company is not, by itself, motivated to make potentially expensive changes to a safer technology,” Orum said. Refiners use HF as a catalyst to make high-octane gasoline. A few companies, under pressure from advocacy groups and regulators, have switched to a modified form of the acid, which still poses significant risks to workers and communities but is less likely to travel as far. No refinery owner has embraced a product known as solid acid catalyst, which union officials and chemical safety experts say is far safer than HF. The industry says that making a switch would prove too complicated and expensive. The cost of shifting from HF to alternatives is somewhere between $50 million and $150 million per refinery.[10]

Hydrofluoric Acid Used at Ponca City Refinery

According to a report by KOCO News in 2011, the Phillips 66 refinery in Ponca City is one of three refineries in Oklahoma that use Hydrofluoric acid. The other Oklahoma refineries that use Hydrofluoric acid are the Valero Refinery in Ardmore and the Gary Williams Corporation Refinery in Wynnewood.[11] According to a memorandum from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Air Quality Division dated June 8, 2010, the HF Alkylation Unit (Alky) at Ponca City Refinery uses hydrofluoric (HF) acid as a catalyst to promote the reaction of olefin with isobutane to form high-octane gasoline blending components. The olefin feed stream to the unit is produced in the fluid catalytic cracking and delayed coking processes. As mentioned in the No. 5 FCCU process description, the olefin feed is split into a propane-propylene stream (PP) and a butane-butylene stream (BB). The BB stream is treated for H2S removal in the Alky Unit BB Merox Treater prior to feeding the SHP (Selective Hydrogenation Process) unit to remove butadiene and isomerize 1-butene. On the way to the Alky, the PP stream can be processed through the Catalytic Polymerization Unit. Isobutane makeup feed is either produced in the Butamer Unit or purchased from outside the Refinery.[12]

Learn More about the Hydrofluoric acid Alkylation Unit (Alky) at Ponca City Refinery

February 11, 2017: Phillips 66 Pipeline Worker Still Missing As Fire Continues to Blaze in Paradis

The Advocate reported on February 11, 2017 that one worker is missing and another recuperating in a hospital burn unit as a Phillips 66 natural gas pipeline in St. Charles Parish was still ablaze almost a full day later. Officials and plant workers could do little Friday but seal off the section of pipe that caught fire and wait for the gas inside to burn off. Authorities warned it could be hours or days more before the flames were entirely extinguished, although the fire had shrunk considerably by early evening. Todd Denton, general manager of midstream operations for Phillips 66, the company that owns the pipeline, said Friday it was the most serious industrial accident of his career. “I can’t express strongly enough the concern I have and that the Phillips 66 family has for those impacted,” he said. The missing worker and those who were injured have yet to be identified by company officials. One worker received treatment at a nearby hospital and was released, while another was listed in fair condition after being airlifted to the regional burn unit at Baton Rouge General Hospital.

The fire began in a fenced-off, 800-square-foot area around which six workers — three employed by Phillips 66 and three by Blanchard Contractors — were trying to clean out a section of the pipeline, officials said. Oil and gas companies routinely send pieces of equipment called “pigs” down the line to clear debris from the inside of a pipe. To launch a pig, crews typically burn off the fuel in the pipe, then seal off the section so it can be depressurized. Then they load the pig, seal the pipe back up and open the valve, allowing the liquefied natural gas to push the equipment through. “We were receiving that pig,” Denton said. “We don’t know what happened after that.” Between depressurizing and pressurizing the pipeline and burning off gas, running the equipment can be dangerous, experts said, especially if all the gas doesn’t burn off or if there’s a leak in the line or some other problem.

Environmental groups seized on the fire as an example of the dangers posed by pipelines carrying fossil fuels. Those groups hope to halt the construction of another line, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, in which Phillips 66 is a partner. Conservationists are planning to rally outside the state Department of Environmental Quality at 10:30 a.m. Monday to keep up the opposition. “As the Phillips 66 pipeline fire continues to burn, can we really trust their assurances that another pipeline would be safe?” Cyn Sarthou, executive director of the Gulf Restoration Network, asked in a statement. “Clearly, if the Bayou Bridge pipeline is built, it will place our communities and our workers at risk.” Regulators argued that the comparison doesn’t hold water. The Venice-Paradis line that caught fire Thursday transports liquid natural gas, while Bayou Bridge would carry crude oil. "In terms of the regulatory community, (the fire) doesn't have any bearing on” the Bayou Bridge debate, said DEQ spokesman Greg Langley.[13]

February 11, 2017: Acid Leak at Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery Injures Seven Workers

Reuters reported on February 11, 2017 that seven contract workers were taken to St. Joseph hospital after a toxic hydrofluoric acid leak at Phillips 66's Ferndale Refinery. The leak was from the refinery's alkylation unit, the Bellingham Herald said, citing a company statement. Alkylation units use hydrofluoric acid to convert refining byproducts into octane-boosting components of gasoline.[14] The gas leak occurred about 5 p.m. in the refinery at 3901 Unick Road. “Our internal response team immediately activated the emergency response plan and the leak was contained within the property,” Phillips 66 stated. “There was no threat to the public, to anybody in the area,” said Assistant Chief Larry Hoffman of Whatcom County Fire District 7, which serves the Ferndale area. Other workers “sheltered in place as a precaution,” Phillips 66 said. There also was a report of a precautionary evacuation. A horn was blown at 6:13 p.m., signaling the all-clear for people to resume normal work activity.[15]

February 10, 2017: Sixty Homes Evacuated, Two Workers Taken to Hospital, One Worker Missing in Phillips 66 Pipeline Fire in Paradis Louisiana

Sixty Homes Evacuated, Two Workers Taken to Hospital, One Worker Missing in Phillips 66 Pipeline Fire in Paradis Louisiana. Sixty homes in Paradis, Louisiana were evacuated, two workers were taken to a local hospital, and another is unaccounted for after an explosion and fire at a Phillips 66 pipeline station. Two of the workers were hospitalized — one taken to a burn center— and three had minor or no injuries, the sheriff said. The remaining worker was unaccounted for, and a helicopter was being brought in to help search for him. Workers are now attempting to shut a high pressure line, a spokesman for the parish said. Photo: Matthew Hinton/The Advocate via AP) (Associated Press)

Reuters reported on February 10, 2017 that sixty homes in Paradis, Louisiana were evacuated, two workers were taken to a local hospital, and another is unaccounted for after an explosion and fire at a Phillips 66 pipeline station. Two of the workers were hospitalized — one taken to a burn center— and three had minor or no injuries, the sheriff said. The remaining worker was unaccounted for, and a helicopter was being brought in to help search for him. Workers are now attempting to shut a high pressure line, a spokesman for the parish said. "It's a very high pressure, high intensity fire," Champagne said. "When you get close to it, it is really singeing." The source of the product in the pipeline has been shut off, but the fire could burn for hours or at least a day, Champagne said. "It is a loud and scary fire, but it is burning off." "Phillips 66 is in the process of accounting for all employees and contractors who were working at the site at the time," the spokesman said.[16]

Champagne said the source of the 20-inch pipeline had been shut off but the fire would have to burn off the rest of the liquid inside, which could take hours or even days. “They tell us the best thing that can happen right now is for the product to burn off,” he said. The pipeline was carrying a highly volatile byproduct of natural gas, which was burning cleanly and very hotly over a 30- to 40-foot area, the sheriff said. “It’s just a big blow torch,” he said.[17]

August 27, 2016: Worker Killed in Accident on Phillips 66 Funded Dakota Access Pipeline

The Associated Press reported on August 27, 2016 that a man working on the four-state Dakota Access Pipeline, funded in part by Phillips 66, was killed in an apparent accident in western North Dakota, said North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk. Kalk said the man was on a tractor Thursday, covering the underground pipeline with soil and grass seed. Kalk said the company reported Friday that the man suffered a serious head injury, apparently while working on equipment. He was taken to a Minot hospital, where he died.[18] Phillips 66 owns a 25% stake in the $3.7B pipeline that is being built by Energy Transfer Partners.

May 11, 2016: Chevron Phillips Chemical Contract Worker Dies Weeks After Construction Site Injury

Houston Channel 2 reported on May 11, 2016 that a contract worker at the Chevron Phillips Chemical plant in Baytown has died. The worker, who was contracted by Fluor, was injured in an accident at Cedar Bayou construction site on April 23, the company said. He went through a series of procedures before he died. "Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP (Chevron Phillips Chemical) can confirm that an employee of a contractor working on its US Gulf Coast Petrochemicals Project passed away on the evening of May 6 following hospitalization for injuries sustained at the Cedar Bayou construction site on April 23," said a statement by Chevron Phillips. "The contractor’s employee was transported from the company’s Cedar Bayou construction site to an area hospital and later transferred to a Houston trauma center where he had undergone a series of procedures." The identity of the worker has not been released.[19]

October 30, 2014: Two Workers Injured at Humber Refinery

BBC reported on October 30, 2014 that two workers were injured by a steam leak at the Humber Refinery at 09:30 GMT. Phillips said the pair had been taken to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield by air ambulance. The company has given no more information on the employees' injuries and said it was offering support and assistance to their families.[20]

BBC reported on November 10, 2014 that 450 contract workers walked out at Phillips 66's Humber Refinery on November 10, 2014. The "unofficial" action is over communication issues at the site. However the GMB union says it's over safety concerns after a gas leak at the site last week in which two men were injured. Phillips 66 confirmed there had been "a small gas release on a unit during some routine maintenance work at the Humber Refinery" last Wednesday. "All we want is a reassurance that the site is safe [and] some safety issues addressed. Unfortunately, the employer has failed to do that and because of that then men have reacted," said GMB union officer Shaune Clarkson. "This is the straw that's broke the camel's back." A company spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that earlier today, at approximately midday, a number of contract workers left site in unofficial action. "We have been in ongoing dialogue with contractor management over the last week to discuss their issues, many of which relate to onsite communications, and will continue to work with them to reach a satisfactory conclusion."[21]

August 21, 2014: Four Injured in DCP Midstream Pipeline Fire

NewOK reported on August 21, 2014 that fourworkers were injured in Garvin County in a fire while a crew was performing maintenance on a natural gas pipeline operated by DCP Midstream, a 50 percent joint venture between Phillips and Spectra Energy. The natural gas line fire was quickly extinguished and the workers were taken to the hospital in Lindsay, where they were treated and released. DCP reported the incident to the proper regulatory authorities and will investigate further on its own to determine what happened.[22]

July 7, 2014: Two Workers Injured in Fire at Phillips 66's Port Arthur Chemical Plant

Plastics News reported on July 15, 2014 that two workers were injured in a fire in a ethylene/propylene unit at the at a Chevron Phillips Chemical Plant in Port Arthur. No cause for the fire was given in a July 9 statement from Chevron Phillips. The statement added that the injured workers remained hospitalized.[23] “We regret very deeply that this event has occurred. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and their families. We ask for your patience as we manage the response to the incident,” said Margie Conway, plant manager for Chevron Phillips Chemical. “We will communicate additional information when it can be confirmed.”[24]

The Port Arthur plant has almost 1.8 billion pounds of annual ethylene capacity and 1.1 billion pounds of annual propylene capacity. Chevron Phillips has declared force majeure production limits on that material after the fire. Phillips Chevron officials said that reviews are underway to determine when the unaffected areas of the plant can be restarted, and that no timetable has been set for restart of the area affected by the incident.[25]

Mary Meaux reported at The Port Arthur News on July 8, 2014 that an investigation into the cause of the fire at Chevron Phillips Chemical Company that injured two workers is underway less than 24 hours after the incident. “A team of experts from other Chevron Phillips Chemical facilities has been assembled and has begun the investigation to determine the root cause of the incident,” according to a press release from David Hastings, public affairs manager at Chevron Phillips. The localized fire occurred at the Port Arthur facility at about 8 pm on July 7. The chemical company’s fire response team handled the fire while Port Arthur Fire Department remained on standby with equipment and manpower should it be needed, said Port Arthur Police Maj. John Owens. “The fire chief (Larry Richard) and I went in and were part of their emergency operations center to assist them in decision making and operations should they need outside assistance and to ensure the public and community that we had someone inside the EOC to look at it from the community’s side,” Owens said.[26]

March 18, 2014: Three Workers Injured in Hydrofluric Acid Unit at Borger Refinery

Channel 7 Amarillo reported on March 18, 2014 that two Phillips employees and a contractor were injured in an accident at Borger refinery that took place at about 5 pm on March 18, 2014. The injured were taken to Golden Plains Community Hospital to receive medical treatment and the condition of the individuals is not life threatening. One employee is at Golden Plains Community Hospital, the second has been transported to the Lubbock Burn Center, and the contract worker is under observation at Golden Plains Community Hospital. Scanner traffic indicated the injured had been exposed to hydrogen sulfide. Phillips is investigating the incident.[27]

According to the "Borger News-Herald" the incident occurred during turnaround at the unit that handles hydrofluric (HF) acid. The hydrofluric acid unit was shut down at the time the accident occurred. Phillips did not confirm the exact nature of the incident. Phillips is investigating the cause and implications of the incident and details are still being clarified as the influx of turnaround workers has increased traffic inside the plant. "We want to figure out exactly what happened," said Dennis Nuss, a Senior Advisor for Phillips 66 who works with Project Communications. "We want to make sure that something similar will not happen again." When asked if the incident was due to either a chemical exposure or a fire, Nuss said, "There was no fire." The Borger News-Herald is reaching out to contract companies and contractors for more information and will update the story as more information is released.[28]

Independent air monitoring throughout the night to ensure the community was safe. “The continuous monitoring picked up zero readings,” said Owens. “We do this any time there is an incident. It is protocol for the fire department’s hazardous response team to perform independent monitoring.”[29]

October 30, 2013: Two Workers Injured in Steam Leak at Humber Refinery

The Grimsby Telegraph reported on November 28, 2013 that two workmen from Phillips, who received serious injuries after a steam leak at the Killingholme refinery on October 30, 2013, are still being treated at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield with one worker in a critical condition while the second is said to be making satisfactory progress.[30] The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has visited the site and an official investigation into the accident is underway.[31][32]

April 27, 2013: Fire at Chevron Phillips Port Arthur Chemical Plant Sends Eight to Hospital

The Port Arthur News reported on April 27, 2013 that an early morning fire at Chevron Phillips Chemical Company in Port Arthur sent eight contract workers to two hospitals on April 27, 2013. Company officials confirmed that a localized fire occurred at its Port Arthur facility at approximately 4 a.m. during a turnaround period, which resulted in several contractor employees being transported to the local hospital. The fire was quickly extinguished, and there was no impact to the community, according to a press release from Melanie Samuelson with Chevron Phillips corporate communication. “The safety of our employees is our highest priority,” Margie Conway, plant manager at the Port Arthur facility, said in a press release. “We regret very much that this incident has occurred, and are thankful that most of the contractor employees were treated and released from the hospital.”[33]

May 1, 2012: Employee Dies in Accident at Borger Refinery

KVII-TV in Amarillo, Texas, reported on May 1, 2012 an employee at the Phillips 66 refinery in Borger, Texas fell from a height of 100 feet at about 3pm and was taken to the Golden Plains Community Hospital in Borger where he died. "ConocoPhillips deeply regrets the loss of our employee and wishes to extend sympathy to the employee's family, friends and co-workers," said spokesman Rich Johnson. "ConocoPhillips is investigating the cause of the accident." Officials with Phillips 66 say the incident remains under investigation. It is reported that this is the first fatality at the refinery in 25 years.[34][35]

March 27, 2000: 1 Dead and 71 Injured in Explosion at Phillips' Houston Chemical Complex (HCC)

One worker was killed and 71 were injured after an explosion and fire occurred approximately 1:22 p.m. CT on March 27, 2000, at Phillips Petroleum's Houston Chemical Complex at 1400 Jefferson Road, Pasadena, Texas.[36] The fire produced huge plumes of black smoke that spread over the heavily-industrialized Houston Ship Channel and neighboring residential areas.[37] The explosion occurred at the K-Resin facility and involved a type of plastic made with butadiene. At the time of the explosion, the tank was out of service for cleaning and had no pressure or temperature gauges that would have provided the workers with an alert to the approaching crisis.[38] Ultimately, this explosion resulted in one fatality, while 32 Phillips Petroleum employees and 39 subcontractors were taken to local hospitals for sustaining burns, smoke inhalation, and cuts from debris.[39] It took search crews five hours to locate the body of a missing employee in the rubble. The dead man was Rodney Gott, a 45-year-old supervisor, who barely survived the Phillips Disaster of 1989. At that time Gott was in a building whose roof collapsed but he remained in the blazing plant to save a woman and attend to the injured.[40]

“Too many people have been killed in the complex over the last 10 years. We've got people who are scared to go back in that plant because they are worried there is going to be a reoccurrence," said Joe Campbell, the secretary-treasurer of PACE Local 4-227 in Pasadena. "Several are going to psychiatrists. This is a tragedy for the contractors who were injured Monday too. But the truth is, instead of hiring union members Phillips employs contractors who have little or no experience working in a volatile place. On any given day there are 200 to 300 contractors at the facility. Phillips is one of the most penny-pinching SOBs there are. They are always talking about cost savings, just like the rest of corporate America. They've been cited so many times by OSHA, but all they get is a slap on the wrist and they promise to do better next time.” Phillips employees are represented by the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International (PACE) union, which also operates labor-management safety committees with the company. [41]

“Phillips has got some problems,” said Danny George, whose family has a long history of working in the industry. “There's too many explosions. You've got to look at the history. Now, when you hear of an explosion, the first place you look at is Phillips.”[42]

On April 14, 2000, State Sen. Mario Gallegos Jr. asked state and federal officials in Texas for a criminal investigation of Phillips Petroleum Co.'s plant in Pasadena after the explosion that killed one worker and injured 74 others. "Nobody asked me to initiate this," said Gallegos. "If there is a hellacious explosion, all the businesses along the channel are at risk. You've got to feel for the families who live and work around here. I hope something is done."[43]

Results of OSHA Investigation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's six-month investigation concluded that failure to train workers properly was a key factor in the explosion and fire, and it proposed that Phillips Petroleum be fined $2.5 million in penalties for 50 alleged violations of safety standards at the facility.[44]

OSHA determined that the March explosion took place when a runaway chemical reaction occurred in a tank containing an unknown quantity of butadiene that burst the 12,000-gallon vessel. This explosion resulted in a fire and damage to other nearby chemical tanks. The butadiene tank was out of service for cleaning and had no pressure or temperature gauges that could have alerted workers in the control room to the impending hazard. More importantly, workers had not been trained in safety procedures for handling butadiene, and they were unaware of the potential for explosion. In addition, while the vessel was not in use, butadiene continued to flow into the tank through a non-functioning valve that had not been properly locked out.[45]

"Unfortunately, this tragedy is not an isolated incident, but one in a series of incidents at this site," said Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman. "Three workers lost their lives in explosions at this plant in less than a year's time, and 23 others were killed in a major explosion in 1989."

OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress said, "We have cited similar violations again and again at this plant, yet tragedies continue to occur. What is really needed here is a full reassessment of worker safety and health in all areas of the plant, significantly improved training for employees and a firm commitment from plant and corporate management to make safety an ongoing high priority. We recognize that the plant is now under new ownership, and we look to the new owners to assure that the problems of the past do not continue."[46]

As a result of the inspection, OSHA has alleged 30 willful instance-by-instance violations for failure to train plant operators with a total proposed penalty of $2.1 million ($70,000 per instance); four alleged willful violations of process safety management and lockout/tagout standards with a proposed penalty of $280,000; two alleged repeat violations of the process safety management standard for a proposed penalty of $70,000; 13 alleged serious violations with proposed penalties of $66,000; one other-than-serious violation with a proposed penalty of $1,000 for a total of 50 alleged violations with proposed penalties of $2,517,000. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and OSHA regulations. A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard. Repeat violations are those in which an employer has previously been cited within the last three years for the same, or a substantially similar, violation and which has become a final order and not under contest.[47]

June 23, 1999: 2 Dead and 3 Injured in Explosion at Phillips' Houston Chemical Complex (HCC)

Two workers were killed and three men were injured in an explosion on the morning of Wednesday, June 23, 1999, at Phillips Petroleum Co.'s K-Resin Chemical plant in its chemical complex at 1400 Jefferson Road, Pasadena, Texas. An alarm sounded at 11:30 am when the blast occurred and a fire erupted. It took more than an hour for Phillips' onsite fire department to extinguish the blaze.[48] Those killed were 24-year-old Juan Martinez and his uncle Jose Inez Rangel, who were performing a hydrostatic test on pipe until they were burned to death by 500-degree F molten plastic.[49] Both Martinez and Rangel were employed by Zachry Construction Corp.[50] Today, the facility continues to manufacture high-density polyethylene (HDPE), as well as K-Resin SBC.[51] This complex employs 750 workers for the production of specialty chemicals, including 150 operations and maintenance personnel.[52]

A massive propane leak occurred on 25 June 2008 in a utility easement just outside plant property.[53][54] The Pasadena site was home to the 1989 Phillips Explosion, which killed numerous employees and contractors after cost cutting efforts by the company. The initial explosion was equivalent to 2.4 tons of TNT exploding, damaging the homes of residents within an eight mile radius of the refinery. The initial explosion mushroom cloud was visible to area residents within a 15 mile radius of the site.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials fined the company $204,000 for 13 alleged safety violations.[55]

The Phillips complex also had explosions in April 1999, when a rail car containing polypropylene blew up, and in August, when there was an explosion in the polypropylene section of the plant.[56]

October 23, 1989: 23 Dead and 314 Injured in Explosion and Fire at Phillips' Houston Chemical Complex (HCC)

Twenty-three workers died and another 314 were injured in the Phillips Disaster of 1989, a devastating series of explosions and fire on October 23, 1989 at Phillips' Houston Chemical Complex (HCC) near the Houston Ship Channel in Pasadena, Texas. Aerial photo of complex as seen from north to south. At the conclusion of the investigation (April 19, 1990), OSHA issued 566 Willful violations and 9 serious violations with a combined total proposed penalty of $5,666,200 to Phillips 66. Photo: Wikipedia
The Phillips Disaster of 1989 refers to a devastating series of explosions and fire on October 23, 1989 at Phillips' Houston Chemical Complex (HCC) near the Houston Ship Channel in Pasadena, Texas that left 23 employees dead and 314 injured.Map of Area Affected by the Explosion. At the conclusion of the investigation (April 19, 1990), OSHA issued 566 Willful violations and 9 serious violations with a combined total proposed penalty of $5,666,200 to Phillips 66. Photo: Wikipedia
Granite memorial to the 23 workers killed during the Phillips Disaster of 1989. Photo Wikipedia.

The Phillips Disaster of 1989 refers to a devastating series of explosions and fire on October 23, 1989 at Phillips' Houston Chemical Complex (HCC) near the Houston Ship Channel in Pasadena, Texas that left 23 employees dead and 314 injured. The initial blast registered 3.5 on the Richter Scale, and the conflagration took 10 hours to bring under control.

The facility produced approximately 6.8 million tons per year of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a plastic material used to make milk bottles and other containers. The Houston Chemical Complex (HCC) facility had 905 company employees and approximately 600 daily contract employees, who were engaged primarily in regular maintenance activities and new plant construction.[57]

The accident resulted from a release of extremely flammable Chemical process|process gases that occurred during regular maintenance operations on one of the plant's polyethylene Chemical reactor|reactors. More than 39 tons of highly flammable gases were released through an open valve almost instantaneously. During routine maintenance, isolation valves were closed and compressed air hoses that actuated them physically disconnected as a safety measure. The air connections for opening and closing this valve were identical, and had been improperly reversed when last re-connected. As a result, the valve would have been open when the switch in the control room was in the "valve closed" position. After that, the valve was opened when it was expected to stay closed, and finally passed the reactor content into air.[58] A vapor cloud formed and traveled rapidly through the polyethylene plant. Within 90 to 120 seconds, the vapor cloud came into contact with an ignition source and exploded with the force of 2.4 tons of Trinitrotoluene|TNT.[59] Ten to fifteen minutes later, that was followed by the explosion of the 76,000 Liter isobutane storage tank, then by the catastrophic failure of another polyethylene reactor, and finally by other explosions, probably about six in total.[60]

Explosions

The incident started at approximately 1:00 PM local time on October 23, 1989, at 1400 Jefferson Road, Pasadena, Texas 77506. A massive and devastating explosion and fire ripped through the Phillips 66 Company's Houston Chemical Complex (HCC), killing 23 persons—all working at the facility—and injuring 314 others (185 Phillips 66 employees and 129 contract employees). In addition to the loss of life and injuries, the explosion affected all facilities within the complex, causing $715.5 million worth of damage plus an additional business disruption loss estimated at $700 million. The two polyethylene production Chemical plant|plants nearest the source of the blast were destroyed, and in the HCC administration building nearly 0.5 mile away, windows were shattered and bricks ripped out. The initial explosion was equivalent to an earthquake registering 3.5 on the Richter Scale and threw debris as far away as six miles.[61]

Early Response

The initial response was provided by the Phillips 66 Company fire brigade which was soon joined by members of the Channel Industries Mutual Aid association (CIMA). Cooperating governmental agencies were the Texas Air Control Board, the Harris County Pollution Control Board, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. Coast Guard, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).[62]

Firefighting

The fire-fighting water system at the HCC was part of the process water system. When the first explosion occurred, some fire hydrants were sheared off at ground level by the blast. The result was inadequate water pressure for fire fighting. The shut-off valves which could have been used to prevent the loss of water from ruptured lines in the plant were out of reach in the burning wreckage. No remotely operated fail-safe isolation valves existed in the combined plant/fire-fighting water system. In addition, the regular-service fire-water pumps were disabled by the fire which destroyed their electrical power cables. Of the three backup diesel-operated fire pumps, one had been taken out of service, and one ran out of fuel in about an hour. Fire-fighting water was brought in by hoses laid to remote sources: settling ponds, a cooling tower, a water main at a neighboring plant, and even the Houston Ship Channel. The fire was brought under control within about 10 hours as a result of the combined efforts of fire brigades from other nearby companies, local fire departments, and the Phillips 66 foam trucks and fire brigade.[63]

Search and Rescue

All search and rescue operations were coordinated by the Harris County, Texas|Harris County (Texas) Medical Examiner and County Coroner. Search and rescue efforts were delayed until the fire and heat subsided and all danger of further explosions had passed. These operations were difficult because of the extensive devastation in the HCC and the danger of structural collapse on the search and rescue team. The Phillips 66 Company requested, and the FAA approved and implemented, a 1-mile no-fly zone around the plant to prevent engine vibration and/or helicopter rotor downwash from dislodging any of the wreckage. The U.S. Coast Guard and City of Houston fire boats evacuated to safety over 100 trapped people across the Houston Ship Channel. OSHA preserved evidence for evaluation regarding the cause of the catastrophe.[64]

Results of OSHA Investigation

OSHA's major findings included: Lack of process hazard analysis; inadequate standard operating procedures (SOPs); non-fail-safe block valve; inadequate maintenance permitting system; inadequate lockout/tagout procedures; lack of combustible gas detection and alarm system; presence of ignition sources; inadequate ventilation systems for nearby buildings; fire protection system not maintained in an adequate state of readiness. Additional factors found by OSHA included: Proximity of high-occupancy structures (control rooms) to hazardous operations; inadequate separation between buildings; crowded process equipment; insufficient separation between the reactors and the control room for emergency shutdown procedures.[65]

OSHA's investigation also revealed that a number of company audits, which were done by Phillips' own safety personnel as well as by outside consultants, had identified unsafe conditions, but had been largely ignored.[66]

Quoting from a key OSHA document:[67]

"The catastrophe at the Phillips Complex underscored the need for effective implementation of good safety management systems in the petrochemical industry and raised questions about diffused responsibility for employee safety at worksites where one or more contractors are engaged in work for a company. OSHA had addressed this issue at construction sites, but not at petrochemical plants like the Phillips Complex, where an engineering contractor was regularly employed to perform key maintenance operations and was involved in the October 1989 disaster. The Department of Labor therefore determined that OSHA's investigation of this tragic accident would be broad in scope and would examine the underlying causes Vl1 '-"'consequences and that the Department would report to the President with findings and recommendations." "

A citation for willful violations of the OSH Act "general duty" clause has been issued to Phillips with proposed penalties of $5,660,000. In addition, citations with proposed penalties of $6,200 have been issued for serious violations in the areas of emergency response, emergency egress, inadequate pre-emergency planning, plant alarm systems, hazard communication, and respiratory protection. V1l1A citation for willful violations with proposed penalties of $724,000 has been issued to Fish Engineering and Construction ( a Phillips maintenance contractor) for failing to obtain the necessary vehicle and hot work permits when working in the polyethylene plant. Citations for serious violations with proposed penalties of $5,500 have also been issued for hazards involving inadequate respiratory protection and deficiencies in the company's hazard communication program; other than serious violations involving mainly recordkeeping issues resulted in an additional $100 proposed penalty."

At the conclusion of the investigation (April 19, 1990), OSHA issued 566 Willful violations and 9 serious violations with a combined total proposed penalty of $5,666,200 to Phillips 66 Company and 181 Willful violations and 12 serious violations with a combined total proposed penalty of $729,600 to Fish Engineering and Construction, Inc., a maintenance contractor on the site. Willful violations, under OSHA, are "those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to" OSHA safety rules. Serious violations are those with "substantial probability" of death or serious harm that the employer knew or should have known about.[68]

The fine against Phillips was the second-largest ever for a single inspection by the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). "This tragedy is magnified by the clear evidence that this explosion was avoidable had recognized safety procedures been followed," said Labor Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole in a strongly worded statement. "OSHA has uncovered internal Phillips documents that called for corrective action but which were largely ignored." Gerard F. Scannell, head of OSHA, charged inadequate management commitment "to protect the lives and well-being of Phillips employees." The labor union that represents Phillips' workers dismissed the proposed fine as representing "no real penalty. Much less will it be a deterrent to future tragedies resulting from current practices." Beyond this, the union professed doubt that the fine proposed would actually be levied, since "OSHA has a history of making deals."[69]

As a result of a settlement between OSHA and Phillips 66 Company, OSHA agreed to delete the willful characterization of the citations and Phillips 66 agreed to pay a $4 million fine and to institute process safety management procedures at HCC and the company's sister facilities at Sweeny, Texas; Borger, Texas; and Woods Cross, Utah.[70]

Root Cause Analysis

Think Reliability performed a root cause analysis of the accident in 2009 that determined the underlying reasons behind the Phillips 66 Explosion of 1989.[71]

Looking at the Phillips 66 Explosion Cause Map, one can see how a series of procedural errors occurred that fateful day. Contract workers were busy performing a routine maintenance task of clearing out a blockage in a collection tank for the plastic pellets produced by the reactor. The collection tank was removed, and work commenced that morning. However, at some point just after lunch, the valve to the reactor system was opened, releasing an enormous gas cloud which ignited less than two minutes later.

The subsequent OSHA investigation highlighted numerous errors. First, the air hoses used to activate the valve pneumatically were left near the maintenance site. When the air hoses were connected backwards, this automatically opened the valve, releasing a huge volatile gas cloud into the atmosphere. It is unknown why the air hoses were reconnected at all. Second, a lockout device had been installed by Phillips personnel the previous evening, but was removed at some point prior to the accident. A lockout device physically prevents someone from opening a valve. Finally, in accordance with local plant policy but not Phillips policy, no blind flange insert was used as a backup. The insert would have stopped the flow of gas into the atmosphere if the valve had been opened. Had any of those three procedures been executed properly, there would not have been an explosion that day. According to the investigation, contract workers had not been adequately trained in the procedures they were charged with performing. Additionally, there were significant design flaws in the reactor/collector system. The valve system used had no mechanical redundancies; the single Demco ball valve was the sole cut-off point between the highlypressurized reactor system and the atmosphere.

Additionally, there was a significant design flaw with the air hoses, as alluded to earlier. Not only were the air hoses connected at the wrong time, but there was no physical barrier to prevent them from being connected the wrong way. This is the same reason North American electrical plugs are mechanically keyed and can only be plugged in one way. It can be bad news if connected incorrectly! Connecting the air hoses backward meant the valve went full open, instead of closed. Both of these design flaws contributed to the gas release, and again, this incident would not have occurred if either flaw was absent.[72]

January 21, 1980: 34 Injured in Explosion at Phillips Refinery in Phillips Texas

The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reported on January 21, 1980 that explosions rocked Borger Refinery sending flames 300 feet into the air and damaging dozens of nearby homes and forcing 200 persons to flee the area. At least 34 persons were injured in the explosions which heavily damaged houses in the nearby community of Phillips and shattered windows 4 miles away in Borger. "There was a big tremble and a roar; it was more like an earthquake,"said Ada Westbrook. "All the stuff on the walls just shot right off and landed on the floor. We opened the door and saw a big ball of fire and black smoke. There are a lot of shook people here. It's just unbelievable." Dick Robinson, a spokesman for Phillips, said 29 persons were treated at a nearby hospital for minor injuries and released. Four persons were admitted for treatment but the seriousness of their injuries was unknown. Officials said the blast roared through two cracking units used to manufacture high octane gasoline. Officials had feared the blaze would spread to a third unit before it was brought under control.[73]

Officials estimated the damage would soar to millions of dollars at the plant and in Phillips and Borger. Al Hadberg, a spokesman for the Red Cross, said most of the homes close to the plant suffered heavy damage. "Most of the wood framed houses shifted on their foundation. A lot of the garage doors were torn off and a couple of ceilings collapses." Phillips officials said debris from the explosion could be coated with an acidic substance and advised residents not to pick u any of the material that landed in their yards.[74]

Phillips Decides to Tear Down the Town

Phillips Petroleum Company created the town of Phillips, Texas in the 1920s to refine oil pumped from the Texas Panhandle, building houses for its workers, a park and the swimming pool at the school, and fixing the streets. In 1986 Phillips told the 1,500 residents of the town that it needed the land it owned under their houses and that they had until August 31 to move somewhere else.

The NY Times reported on February 23, 1986 that Phillips Petroleum Company which created the town of Phillips, Texas in the 1920s to refine oil pumped from the Texas Panhandle, building houses for its workers, a park and the swimming pool at the school, and fixing the streets, told the 1,500 residents that remain in the town that it needs the land it owns under their houses and that they have until Aug. 31 to move their homes somewhere else. "Behind the dispute lies some changed realities in the struggling oilfields of Texas, wrote Robert Reinhold. "Phillips is one of the last company towns remaining from the great boom years, and the company, which has just emerged alive but wounded from a bruising takeover fight, no longer resembles the close family enterprise started by Frank Phillips." After a powerful hydrocarbon explosion at the plant leveled the town's two churches, blew in all the windows on the north side of the school and damaged almost every house in town, the explosion prompted company officials to worry about people living so close to the huge tanks, which hold 55,000 to 100,000 barrels of refined gasoline and other products. If the refinery were being built today, houses would not be built there, said Art Austin, Phillip's spokesman at its office in Borger. Besides, he said, Phillips needs the 140 acres for possible expansion, although it has made no specific plans yet.[75]

The hydrocarbon explosion at Phillips refinery in Phillips, Texas in 1980 obliterated part of the industrial area and some nearby homes with damage estimated in the millions of dollars. The town was permanently evacuated at the request of Phillips 66 Oil Company in 1987. The homes themselves were owned but the land they sat upon was property of two local ranchers who leased the land originally to the Oil Company and later to the home owners. After the explosion, the Oil Company purchased the land from the ranches and forced the homeowners to move. Most would say the real reason the plant wanted the homeowners out of the area was not based on safety, but the fact the oil company was paying close to a million dollars a year in school taxes and wanted the school closed. Therefore, many homes were moved to areas nearby (Borger, Stinnett, , and Fritch, Texas|). The homes that were not moved were leveled.[76]

"Phillips 66 oil company made everyone move after that big explosion," wrote one former resident. "There is nothing there but the old high school and the refinery. The churches were leveled, the homes that were not moved out were leveled. It was one of the most tragic stories of small town life being overtaken by business. People lost everything. No one has a hometown to go back to....it's all leveled and you can't even drive in to look at your old school....armed security guards come after you."

October 26, 1979: 2 Dead and 11 Injured by Poisonous Fumes at Borger Refinery

Employee Deaths and Injuries at Borger Refinery: Phillips had three employee injuries in the Hydrofluric Acid Unit in March 2014 at Borger Refinery, an employee fatality in May 2012, and 2 dead workers and 11 injured in October 1979 as a result of what OSHA called "willful and serious safety violations." Borger Refinery Photo by: Philip Klein All Rights Reserved. Photo used with permission of the photographer

The Frederick Daily Leader reported on October 26, 1979 that two refinery workers trying to repair equipment at the Phillips Petroleum refinery at Borger, Texas were killed and 11 other were injured by deadly fumes from a paralyzing gas or acid lead in the area where they were working. One of the injured was in "very critical" condition. The accident occurred when either hydrogen sulfide gas or hydrflouric acid began leaking. "Apparently, ther was just a leakage of gas, said Jim Ormsby, director of human resources at Phillips. Ormsby said the situation had been brought under control and work at the plant was not interrupted.[77] Officials said they were relatively certain the disabling fumes were from hydrogen sulfide gas that dissipated quickly, but the substance could have been dhydroflouric acid. A Lubbock, Texas, doctor said strong doses of hydrogen sulfide immediately paralyze the respiratory system and can kill within seconds. The gas is very dangerous, the doctor said, because it quickly overcomes a person's sense of smell. Ormsby said the 13 workers had been overhauling an "alkylation unit" at refinery unit 22 in recent weeks and "were getting it ready to start up." The fumes from the leak drifted over a platform crowded with workers after 1 pm, Ormsby said.[78]

Phillips Petroleum was fined $19,600 for violating government safety regulations in connection with the death of the two workers at Borger Refinery. OSHA cited Phillips for "two willful and two serious" safety violations after the two workers fell to their deaths after they inhaled lethal gas on October 25, 1979 during a maintenance check of a special refinery tower at the refinery. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and OSHA regulations. A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard. Jerry Bailey, OSHA's area director, said that while the autopsies were inconclusive, there was "strong evidence" to show the men died from hydrogen sulfide poisoning.[79] Bailey added that an OSHA inspector noted the two men did not have respirators, breathing equipment or facial protection available to them when toxic gas spewed from a pipe thought to be empty. "We feel that had Phillips been in copliance with regulations, the deaths could have been prevented," Bailey said. [80]

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  64. "Explosion and Fire at the Phillips Company - Houston Chemical Complex" Document Accessed on December 4, 2007.
  65. "Explosion and Fire at the Phillips Company - Houston Chemical Complex" Document Accessed on December 4, 2007.
  66. OSHA "Investigation conducted by OSHA at the Houston Chemical Complex" February 12, 1991.
  67. OSHA "Investigation conducted by OSHA at the Houston Chemical Complex" February 12, 1991.
  68. Los Angeles Times. "Phillips Fined $5.7 Million for Blast at Refinery : Energy: OSHA cites the oil company for 575 safety violations in connection with the explosion that killed 23 and injured more than 130." by Michael Parrish. April 20, 2990.
  69. Los Angeles Times. "Phillips Fined $5.7 Million for Blast at Refinery : Energy: OSHA cites the oil company for 575 safety violations in connection with the explosion that killed 23 and injured more than 130." by Michael Parrish. April 20, 2990.
  70. "Explosion and Fire at the Phillips Company - Houston Chemical Complex" Document Accessed on December 4, 2007.
  71. Root Cause Analysis. "The Phillips 66 Explosion: The Rise of Process Safety Management in the Petrochemical Industry" 2009.
  72. Root Cause Analysis. "The Phillips 66 Explosion: The Rise of Process Safety Management in the Petrochemical Industry" 2009.
  73. Pittsburg Post-Gazette. Thirty FourInjured at Texas Gasoline Reinery Blast" January 21, 1980.
  74. Lakeland Ledger. "Explosions Rock Texas Refinery, Injuring at Least 41" January 21, 2980.
  75. New York Times. "OIL COMPANY TOWN, FACING EVICTION, DIGS IN FOR LEGAL BATTLE" by Robert Reinhold. February 23, 1986.
  76. Texas Panhandle Towns. "Phillips, Texas"
  77. Frederick Daily Leader. "Fumes at Refinery Kill Two, Injure 11 Borger Workers" October 26, 2979.
  78. Times-Union. "Fumes From Leakage At Refinery Kill 2" October 26, 2979.
  79. The Prescott Courier. "Oil Firm Fined in Deaths" December 28, 1979.
  80. Lawrence Journal-World "Report Says Phillips Hit with Safety Fine" December 30, 1979.



Master Index of Articles about Phillips 66

The North Tower and the South Tower, part of Phillips 66's Refinery Complex in Ponca City, contain over 250,000 square feet of Class A office space that is essentially unused. Research West contains another 230,000 square feet of unused Class A office space. Photo: Hugh Pickens
Ponca: A Core Asset. Phillips CEO Greg Garland told members of the Bartlesville Chamber of Commerce on August 27, 2013 that the refinery at Ponca is a 'core asset' of Phillips 66. The refinery in Ponca City "is making very good money for us," Garland told his Bartlesville audience. Garland added that he expects gas demands in the U.S. to decline by 20 percent in the next 10 years, but that demand for refined products in South America and Africa will more than offset that decline.

by Hugh Pickens, Ponca City Oklahoma


The purpose of this report is to provide a comprehensive overview of Phillips 66 that documents and explains the company's business strategy and execution of that strategy.

Major Sections of this report on Phillips 66 include:

Safety, Environment, Legal


Corporate


Strategic and Financial


Business Segments


Stock Market


Reference

Refining Business Segment


Increasing Profitability in Refining Business Segment


Detailed Look at Ponca City Refinery


Other Phillips Refineries


Other Locations

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