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Fatal Accident at Motiva Enterprises oil refinery: When a Worker’s Life Is Worth Less Than Dead Fish

In March 2010, Michaels told a Senate panel about Jeff Davis, a boilermaker at the Motiva Enterprises oil refinery in Delaware whose body “literally dissolved” in sulfuric acid after a storage tank explosion in 2001. Motiva was fined $175,000 for the accident, which hurt eight others. 

Motiva Enterprises Sulfuric Acid Tank Explosion: Location: Delaware City, DE

The typical OSHA fine for a work-related death is about $7,900. “There’s no question in my mind that higher penalties would encourage employers to eliminate hazards before workers are hurt,” says David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “I think all of us recognize that fear of prison focuses the mind.”

In March 2010, Michaels told a Senate panel about Jeff Davis, a boilermaker at the Motiva Enterprises oil refinery in Delaware whose body “literally dissolved” in sulfuric acid after a storage tank explosion in 2001. Motiva was fined $175,000 for the accident, which hurt eight others. “Yet, in the same incident, thousands of dead fish and crabs were discovered, allowing an EPA Clean Water Act violation amounting to $10 million,” Michaels testified. “How can we tell Jeff Davis’ wife, Mary, and their five children, that the penalty for killing fish and crabs is many times higher than the penalty for killing their husband and father?”

That December, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) sponsored legislation that would have raised OSHA penalties and made it easier to hold corporate officials criminally liable for flagrant violations. Opposition from Republican members of Congress and business groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce, killed the legislation. “It’s been a constant campaign” to demonize OSHA, Miller says. “The attack on this type of regulation is across the board. It’s not nuanced.”

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1 Comment on “Fatal Accident at Motiva Enterprises oil refinery: When a Worker’s Life Is Worth Less Than Dead Fish”

  1. #1 motivadog
    on May 26th, 2012 at 15:37

    Motiva preaches safety, safety safety, but the bottom line, at least at the location where I was employed, was how much will that cost? The company rolls out all these programs with fancy names, such as safe start, barrier thinking, etc. which are supposed to teach employees how to work safely. the courses are O.K. and I’m sure motiva paid a lot of money to implement them, BUT if the managment doesn,t adhere to the purpose of such training, then why bother? as soon as you walk out of the training, it’s back to business as usual! my guess is motiva will try to hide behind all this training, and be able to say, “we trained these people, but they didn’t do the right thing, so blame the employees, not motiva” in the event of an incident. what a bunch of B/S. one of the main reasons why I left motiva. the old saying practice what you preach does not apply at motiva.

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