Two widows have filed a negligence lawsuit over last year's fatal boiler explosion at the crude oil refinery in Wynnewood.
LeeAnna Mann and Kari Smith sued the refinery's current owner, CVR Energy Inc., and its previous owner, Gary-Williams Energy Co. Their lawsuit seeks more than $1 million.
The blast on Sept. 28, 2012, killed employees Russell Mann, 45, and Billy Smith, 34.
The widows' Houston-based attorney, Gary M. Riebschlager, complained in the lawsuit that the refinery's owners — to save money — failed to make technological upgrades that would have reduced the danger of a steam boiler explosion.
“The outdated Wickes boiler had to be restarted manually because it was not equipped with a Boiler Management System … that would allow Russell Mann and Billy Smith to restart the Wickes boiler from a safe and remote site,” the attorney wrote in the lawsuit.
“Billy Smith was literally inches away from the Wickes boiler as he was performing his task when the boiler exploded,” the attorney wrote. “This archaic method of start up is the same method used to light a gas space heater in a house.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the explosion and cited Wynnewood Refining Co., with repeated serious and other-than serious violations. Proposed penalties totaled $281,100. The citations are being contested.
Wynnewood Refining Co. is a subsidiary of CVR Energy.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Fort Bend County, Texas, where CVR Energy has its headquarters.
CVR Energy would not comment Friday on the lawsuit.
“Our policy is not to discuss litigation. This accident was a tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers remain with Russell Mann's and Billy Smith's friends and loved ones. We remain committed to operating a safe work environment,” said Angie Dasbach, vice president of corporate affairs.