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Widows sue over Wynnewood oil refinery explosion

A negligence suit is filed in Texas against the plant owner, CVR Energy Inc.
by Nolan Clay Modified: September 28, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: September 28, 2013
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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“The outdated Wickes boiler had to be restarted manually because it was not equipped with a Boiler Management System … that would allow Russell Mann and Billy Smith to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.”

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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