Officials investigating acid spill at Tesoro refinery in Martinez

Officials are investigating after sulfuric acid spilled on two workers at the Tesoro refinery in Martinez on Monday.
March 10, 2014 6:42:18 PM PDT
Federal, state and local investigators are looking into an incident at the Tesoro refinery in Martinez that injured two workers. It comes on the heels of a similar incident there just a few weeks ago.

The workers involved in the incident went through the decontamination process and have been taken to the hospital.

Contra Costa County hazardous materials experts call it a level one out of a possible level three incident. Two workers at the Tesoro refinery were sprayed by sulfuric acid. The county fire department says one of the victims was saturated.

This comes after a February 12 accident in the same processing unit, with the same chemical, causing second-degree burns to two other employees. The union representative says it might be time for the plant to take a safety stand down to review protocols.

"The more incidents you have and the closer in time frame seems to indicate something is not working correctly," United Steel Workers Local 5 spokesperson Tracy Scott said.

Tesoro issued this statement: "The contractors were doing maintenance with full protective safety equipment worn" and says Monday's incident "is believed to be unrelated to the chemical release that occurred on February 12."

Ironically, Contra Costa County Health Services had an inspector at the refinery Monday investigating February's incident right before the chemical release occurred.

"We do want to know how this happened, why this happened and how to prevent it from happening in the future. But right now it's too soon to tell what conclusions we have between the two incidents," Contra Costa Health Services hazardous materials specialist Maria Duazo said.

After the February accident, federal safety board inspectors were initially denied access. The state went in and Cal/OSHA ordered Tesoro's processing unit shutdown for several days. Now, those agencies along with the county will be part of a new investigation.


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