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Valero Energy Corp.
CSB Investigation of Sunray, Texas Refinery Fire
Date: 07/09/2008 (Date of Report)
Misconduct Type: Labor
Enforcement Agency: CSB
Contracting Party: None
Court Type: N/A
Disposition: Investigative Finding
Synopsis: A February 16, 2007 fire at the Valero McKee refinery in Sunray, Texas injured four workers and caused the total shutdown and evacuation of the refinery. In July 2008, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) released a final investigation report that concluded the accident “was likely caused by the freeze-related failure of high-pressure piping at a control station that had not been in service for approximately 15 years…Water in the propane accumulated in the low point formed by the control station and froze during cold weather prior to the incident, cracking an inlet pipe elbow. Ice sealing the failed pipe from the process melted as the air temperature rose on the day of the incident, releasing 4,500 pounds per minute of liquid propane, which ignited.” The report found that the refinery did not have an effective program to identify and address the risk of pipe failure due to freezing and the hazards posed by fire exposure to neighboring equipment. The CSB, an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents, makes safety recommendations but does not issue citations or fines.