Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

OSHA Fines The Renewable Energy Group Over Hydrogen Gas Explosion

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On March 3, 2016, The Advocate reported that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined a biodiesel plant run by The Renewable Energy Group (REG) $70,000 over a September 3, 2015, hydrogen gas explosion. The explosion injured four workers and resulted in three willful safety violations from OSHA. According to The Advocate, OSHA's citation stated that REG failed 'to ensure a hazardous and flammable chemical was no longer in a plant pipeline that was under repair.' A separate State Police investigation into the incident determined that the explosion occurred as a result of a failure in 'lockout/tagout' procedures which should have made it clear that the flow of hydrogen gas through the pipeline had not been shut off. A spokesman for REG stated: '[w]hile we have been working with OSHA throughout its investigative process, we respectfully disagree with its findings and the classification of the citation and will contest it. We expect to meet with OSHA in the coming weeks to discuss its findings, the safety measures already in place at the Geismar facility and our commitment to continuous improvement.' The OSHA citation gave REG through March 18, 2016, to correct the safety violations that led to the explosion occurring.

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