The death toll from Friday’s <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/accidents">explosion and fire at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Wash. has risen to five. Two other refinery workers are being treated for serious burns at the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
According to Dow Jones Newswires, a federal investigation of the blast was initiated Saturday by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. Board investigators have already met with Tesoro, union and state officials. The investigation is expected to take about a year.
Currently, seven of the Safety Board’s 18 ongoing investigations involve oil refineries. “We are concerned about the number of accidents that are happening at oil refineries in particular,” aid William Wark, a member of the Board’s investigative team, told Dow Jones.
The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries also began an investigation late Friday night, Dow Jones said.
The Tesoro refinery, which sets on Puget Sound, is located about 70 miles north of Seattle. According to the Tesoro Web site, it has the capacity to refine about 120,000 barrels of crude oil daily. Friday’s incident was the most destructive refinery explosion at a U.S. refinery in five years.
Friday’s explosion occurred at about 12:30 a.m. PT. Witnesses reported that the explosion shook homes as far as five miles away, and shot flames into the sky. According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, the refineryâ€™s human resource manager said the explosion occurred in the catalytic reformer naptha hydrotreater unit of the complex while 10 workers were performing maintenance work in the area.
According to a Reuters report, outgoing Tesoro Chairman and Chief Executive Bruce Smith visited the refinery on Saturday. A spokesperson told Reuters that Smith “did not have a general meeting with employees but walked about the plant talking to individuals and addressing questions and concerns.”