The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited CITGO Petroleum Corp.-LCMC in Lake Charles, Ill., with proposed penalties totaling $169,000, for allegedly failing to protect employees from hazardous working conditions.

OSHA has alleged three willful and 12 serious violations following an investigation that began
Aug. 13, 2007. CITGO Petroleum, which specializes in refining gasoline and lubricants, has approximately 1,430 employees at its Lake Charles location and about 4,000 employees companywide. The company also operates refineries in Illinois and Texas.

Dean McDaniel, OSHA's regional administrator in
Dallas, said: "CITGO Petroleum failed to follow OSHA's process safety management standards. In this case, it is fortunate that no injuries occurred."

The willful violations include failure to operate the blowdown drum within volume limits so as to prevent over-filling and failure to implement blowdown emergency operating procedures. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Serious violations include failure to: provide process safety information for pressure vessels, identify safeguards related to the control of liquid hydrocarbon release through the blowdown system, complete a process hazard analysis for the crude vacuum unit #1 prior to startup and conduct contractor audits. Serious violations are issued when there is a substantial probability that death or serious injury could occur from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in
Baton Rouge, La., or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.