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Phillips to Settle Violations

WASHINGTON -- Phillips Petroleum Co. has agreed to pay more than $2.1 million in federal penalties for safety and health violations discovered at its complex in Pasadena, Texas, after a worker was killed in a March 2000 explosion.

The penalty is part of a settlement agreement with the Labor Department, according to the Associated Press. The deadly explosion was the third since 1989 at the complex near Houston.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a series of health and safety citations to Phillips' chemical complex after the explosion, which also injured about 70 workers. The plant employed 850 workers at the time, making plastic resins for use in medical and consumer products.

Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., which now owns and operates the facility, has agreed to hire safety and health consultants to ensure compliance with OSHA's safety standards. Recommendations are to be implemented by July 31.

OSHA determined that a chemical reaction prompted the explosion in a tank containing butadiene, bursting the 12,000-gallon vessel.

The tank was out of service for cleaning and had no pressure or temperature gauges that could have alerted workers to the impending hazard. Workers also had not been trained in safety procedures for handling the substance, and they were unaware of the potential for explosion, OSHA said.

The Phillips complex also was the site of a 1989 series of explosions and fires in a polyethylene reactor that killed 23 people and injured about 130. Phillips was fined $4 million to settle 544 violations. In June 1999, two people were killed and four were injured in an explosion at the complex. Phillips paid a $140,000 penalty to settle a safety citation, OSHA officials said.
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