Update: Refinery fires safety managers after massive explosion | Buzz Blog

Update: Refinery fires safety managers after massive explosion

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Woods Cross's Silver Eagle Refinery's impressively devastating explosion in November--which damaged dozens if not hundreds of nearby homes--was featured in this week's City Weekly cover story, Utah's Unstable Oil Refineries, which I wrote. At one point during the investigation, I found myself running in circles with that refinery's new Vice President of Refining and Operations Michael Redd, as I asked him about the refinery's new efforts on safety. He wrote me today saying he's "been reminded by several people" that he wasn't able to provide me any names or even titles of--much less access to interview--the refinery employees who are experts on safety regulations. Redd had promised to get back to me on that, but did not by press time. ---

You can listen to my interview of Michael Redd, where he admits he is not an expert on refining or safety, and fails to explain what skills he brings to the refinery. He explains today that at the time of the interview, the refinery had plans to fire their safety managers, but had not yet done so. That sticky situation may explain the tedious nature of our interview, but there's more to this story. 

Writes Redd,

Among the reasons I didn’t answer your question to me following the WX City Council Meeting [Jan. 4] was we were in the process of making some changes in our team, and the new leaders for safety and the old managers of safety were being changed, but they had not been informed and I didn’t want them to find out about the changes until I had talked to them. ...We have several members of our safety team including our new leader for Process Safety Management (PSM), and this leader is Kevin Fieber who has over 20 years experience in PSM and Safety policies and implementation for BP Amoco. Additionally, we have Dan Beecher who is our OSHA workplace safety leader. Several of our people have had PSM specific “continuing education” training in several of the 14 elements of the OSHA 1910.119 regulations including Process Hazards Analysis. 

In addition to the new hires, Silver Eagle has also contracted with outside consultants to advise the company on safety regulations. Redd, however, has declined to detail the terms of that contract--even basic things like the length of the contract--so I'm not sure how anyone is to assess the importance of that. Sure, the consultants, ABS, are putting their reputation on the line, but if Silver Eagle blows up again, won't it be easy enough for ABS to complain that Silver Eagle did not implement the advice they gave them? How will anyone be able to assess that claim given that so little information is available about the relationship? The residents of Woods Cross are pretty used to shell games and buck passing--between state and federal regulators, investigators, the company and Woods Cross City--as my cover story details. Redd e-mailing me the names and credentials of their new safety managers is a start, but there's still a significant transparency issue here, if I may say so myself. 

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