By DAN MURTAUGH
Tesoro Corp. blocked the US Chemical Safety Board from
investigating an incident at a Northern California refinery
and downplayed the extent of workers injuries, the
Tesoro, the US West Coasts largest refiner by capacity,
refused to allow agency investigators to return to the site
of a Feb. 12 chemical spill at the companys Golden
in Martinez, the CSB said
in a letter to Greg Goff, Tesoros CEO. The company
refused to preserve the accident site, prohibited certain
interviews and indicated it wouldnt comply with
Tesoro representatives didnt immediately respond to
requests for comment about the letter after normal business
hours. The company said previously that it cooperated with
We have provided the agency documents, allowed the
agency to inspect the incident location, and facilitated
interviews with knowledgeable refinery
Arredondo, a spokeswoman at company headquarters in San
Antonio, said by e- mail Feb. 21. We also asked the
agency for a written basis for their authority to investigate
and we have not received a response.
The CSB is an independent agency that conducts root-cause
investigations of chemical accidents at fixed industrial facilities
. It doesnt have
authority to levy fines or penalties.
Two workers suffered first- and second-degree burns when
their bodies were sprayed with sulfuric acid while putting a
sampling station back in service at an alkylation unit at the
170,000-bpd refinery, CSB members said in the letter.
shut the unit, which
makes high-octane blendstock for gasoline, after the
incident. The unit remains shut until the California Division
of Occupational Safety and Health, known as Cal/OSHA,
approves a safety review and allows the restart, Erika
Monterroza, an agency spokeswoman, said by e- mail Feb. 20.
Tesoro said the incident is clearly within Cal/OSHAs
jurisdiction. It questioned the CSBs decision to
We were surprised when the CSB notified the company
that the agency intended to deploy a team to investigate, as
the CSB is not charged with investigating a personal safety
incident that did not result in serious injuries or
substantial property damage, Arredondo said Feb. 21.
Arredondo later said a personal safety incident involves
working surfaces, ladders, the use of personal
protective equipment, and other things that may result in an
CSB members said Tesoro presented the inaccurate
claim that the injuries were less than serious.
Acid splashing on workers unprotected faces or
other parts of the body, resulting in first- and
second-degree burns requiring air evacuations to a hospital
burn unit, treatment, and subsequent significant lost time at
work, absolutely constitute serious injuries, board
The letter was signed by CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso and
board members Mark Griffon and Beth Rosenberg.