The US Chemical Safety Board released its final report Wednesday into a deadly Louisiana plant explosion.
"The CSB report on the Williams explosion confirms what we already know -- that Williams' utter disregard for safety leads to senseless, preventable disasters," stated Kurt Arnold of Houston-based law firm Arnold & Itkin, representing workers injured during the Williams Geismar plant explosion.
The explosion and fire at the Williams Olefins Plant in Geismar on June 13, 2013 killed two workers and injured more than 70 others.
"Process safety management program deficiencies at the Williams Geismar facility during the 12 years leading to the incident allowed a type of heat exchanger called a 'reboiler' to be unprotected from overpressure, and ultimately rupture, causing the explosion," the report concluded.
"The tragic accident at Williams was preventable and therefore unacceptable," CSB Chairwoman Vanessa Sutherland said. "This report provides important safety lessons that we urge other companies to review and incorporate within their own facilities."
The board said the company implemented safety improvements after the incident, but CSB recommended Williams strengthen safety management systems and adopt additional safety programs.
"Although this report was limited to the Geismar plant, which Williams is trying to sell, the problems with safety reflect a lack of corporate leadership in Oklahoma," Arnold concluded. "We have no reason to believe that Williams' top-level management have learned lessons from the Geismar disaster or improved safety at other Williams facilities across the country.”
Williams Olefins released the following statement regarding the report:
The June 13, 2013 incident at the Williams Olefins Geismar plant was a tragedy for the affected individuals, the plant and the community. The injured and deceased workers and their families remain in our thoughts and prayers.
Williams cooperated in a full and transparent manner to support the investigation by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB). Williams is in the receipt of the report and intends to address the findings and recommendations of the CSB in order to enhance process safety performance at the Geismar facility.
As the CSB indicates in this report, the plant has made positive changes and implemented improvements in process safety management at the Geismar facility since the 2013 incident. Moving forward, Williams is committed to continuous improvement of its process safety programs.
Our focus on safe operations and the protection of our employees and the communities in which Williams has operations is, and always has been our number one priority. We pledge to continue striving to be a responsible member of the Iberville Parish and Ascension Parish communities.
In September, an Iberville Parish jury ruled in favor of four plaintiffs in a trial regarding the explosion. The jury found that two management groups, the Williams Companies Inc. and the Williams Olefins LLC, knew that employees were at risk before the explosion occurred. All four plaintiffs will receive compensation for their injuries from the explosion.
Company representatives said they will appeal the verdict.
Another trial is scheduled to be held in November for more plaintiffs against the management groups.