WYNNEWOOD — The owner of a southern Oklahoma refinery will contest nearly two dozen citations and a $281,000 fine levied by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration following an explosion last year that killed two workers.
The issue now moves to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, an independent federal agency that handles such appeals.
Many of the most serious citations involve repeated violations surrounding the engineering and hazardous use of a large boiler that exploded Sept. 28 at the Wynnewood Refining Co., killing operators Billy Smith, 34, and Russell Mann, 45.
The company had been cited for many of the same violations following another boiler explosion in 2008.
A spokeswoman for CVR Energy Inc., the Sugar Land, Texas-based company that owns the Wynnewood refinery, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
In a statement last month, the company noted that many of OSHA's findings were consistent with an internal investigation the company shared with OSHA in December, which identified the cause of the explosion as a combination of human error and inconsistencies in procedures and training.
Contesting the fines and citations will not impact OSHA's decision to place the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law, an agency spokesman said.
The 90-year-old Wynnewood refinery employs about 265 workers.
A widow of the one of the workers killed in the blast said she found the company's decision to appeal the fines and citations troubling.
“They took two lives,” said Kari Smith, of Pauls Valley. “I know that's their right to contest it, but my kids no longer have their stepdad, my youngest no longer has a father and I no longer have my husband. It's just not right.”