Air Liquide has been hit with a fine after one of its steam methane reformer (SMR) plants in the US was deemed to have violated safety practices that exposed its workers to health dangers.
The US department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) initiated an inspection of the Corpus Christi SMR in Texas on 27th January 2016 following a complaint of unsafe working conditions.
The Air Liquide Large Industries US LP branch of the Tier One player has since been issued with two safety violations and has received fines totalling $77,000.
The first citation was allocated for failing to perform air monitoring to measure the exposure of employees to carbon monoxide (CO). The second serious citation was issued for failing to protect workers from a potentially hazardous atmosphere created by valves found to be leaking within the pressure swing adsorption (PSA) skid.
Travis Clark, OSHA’s Area Director in the Corpus Christi office, stated, “Air Liquide is a large, multinational organisation with vast holdings but it chooses to ignore simple processes to keep its employee safe. CO can be deadly if it is not controlled and monitored closely.”
Contesting the citations
In a statement, the industrial gas corporation declared, “The health, safety and security of our employees, and the communities in which we operate, is the foundation of Air Liquide’s business. We have fully cooperated with OSHA and have provided all information requested of us to date.”
We expect we will exercise our right to vigorously contest these citations, with the intent to have them vacated
“While Air Liquide is aware of two citations issued by OSHA on 20th July 2016, we strongly disagree with the findings and conclusions contained in the citations. As a result, we expect we will exercise our right to vigorously contest these citations, with the intent to have them vacated.”
Air Liquide has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or content the citations and penalties before an independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The SMR, which was commissioned in 2001 and is connected to Air Liquide’s Gulf Coast pipeline, produces roughly 55,000 m3 of hydrogen (H2) per hour.
Air Liquide’s Large Industries business unit provides gas and energy solutions for industrial production and operates a combined total of 355 air separation units (ASUs), 47 H2 production units and 17 cogeneration facilities.