Diver dies at BP refinery

It is a tragedy that this diver died during the installation of moorings designed to prevent oil spilled from spreading during transfers between tankers and the Cherry Point refinery.  Making matters worse is that despite the fact that BP is paying $4 million for the installation of this system, their proposal to the state suggests they will rarely, if ever, use it for they do not intend to preboom ships if the current runs faster than half a knot!  In contrast, the BP facility at Harbor Island in Elliot Bay proposes to preboom up to currents speeds of 1.5 knots.

Fred

Aug, 8, 2007
Bellingham Herald

WORKPLACE

Cause is under investigation

CAT SIEH AND CALEB HEERINGA

A diver working at the BP Cherry Point Refinery died Tuesday afternoon after another diver found him unconscious underwater.

BP spokesman Mike Abendhoff said the diver, whose name was not released Tuesday, worked for Spokane-based Associated Underwater Services Inc. and was verifying that pilings offshore were being driven to appropriate depths. Abendhoff said coworkers lost contact with the diver at about 2 p.m., and another diver was dispatched to check on him. About 2:25 p.m. the second diver found him.

Abendhoff initially said that the diver’s air supply line, which came from a nearby construction barge, had somehow been severed. He later said it was unclear what had led to the death. Associated Underwater Services president Roger Rouleau said it was too early to determine what had happened.

The diver was brought to the surface, where BP personnel and paramedics unsuccessfully tried to revive him.

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office released no details of the incident Tuesday, pending further investigation.

Abendhoff said the pilings were being put in as part of a state mandate to install 360- degree booming around oil tankers.

Rouleau said Associated Underwater Services specializes in this work and that the diver was experienced in such operations. He said the company takes extensive safety precautions during the dives.

“So much safety and so much planning goes into these things,” Rouleau said. “It’s hard to understand how something this tragic could happen.”

The last workplace accident death at BP took place on May 3, 2005. The Washington Department of Labor and Industries fined BP Cherry Point and Cascade Refinery Services for serious safety violations after Cascade employee Nick Karuza of Blaine died. Karuza was found drowned in accumulated water inside an idled refining tower where he had been working alone on a scaffold, pressure washing accumulated coke.

An Independent Safety Review Panel study of safety practices at BP’s five U.S. refineries in January found that Cherry Point best emphasized safety. The report was commissioned in the wake of the March 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City, Texas, refinery that killed 15 workers.

The report noted that Cherry Point had a “very strong safety culture.” But it said workers were pressured to work a lot of overtime. The report also stated the plant tended to be overconfident about safety and noted several overdue inspections of vessels, piping and relief valves.

~ by fredfelleman on August 27, 2007.

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