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Valero Refinery Explosion in Texas Kills One

Dec 6, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP The Valero petroleum refinery in Texas City, TX was rocked by an explosion Friday evening.  The blast at the 245,000 barrel per day refinery, located 50 miles southeast of Houston, killed a worker and injured two others.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Valero refinery explosion occurred about 9:30 p.m. CST Friday.  The  company is characterizing the incident as a "boiler failure".  The Chronicle reported that there was  fire in the boiler before the explosion.  Texas City residents up to a mile away felt shaking and heard a loud noise  when the accident occurred.

The Valero refinery explosion took the life of 40-year-old Tommy Manis, an employee at the facility.  According to the Chronicle, Manis died of blunt force trauma. His death was the second fatality at the Valero Texas City refinery in 11 years.

According to The New York Times, Valero is investigating the explosion to determine its cause.  The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration also began an investigation of the explosion on Saturday.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board will not be opening an investigation into the Valero refinery explosion because it did not appear to involve a release of hazardous chemicals, or a danger to the community, the Times said.  A spokesperson for the Board told the Times that it is "stretched thin" right now, with 15 open investigations, including eight at refineries.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Valero refinery continued operating at planned rates after the explosion.  The damaged boiler had provided steam to refining units, but the plant was able to run with other boilers on the site.

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