Fatal Accident at ExxonMobil’s Beaumont Refinery Kills Female Contract WorkerDecember 5, 2017
On Friday Dec. 1, a 31-year-old female contract worker, Yesenia Espinoza, was killed in an accident at ExxonMobil’s refinery in Beaumont, Texas.
Employed by contractor company Echo Maintenance, Espinoza was working on a construction project when a 24-inch pipe reportedly hit her in the head, causing fatal injuries. Investigators are continuing to look into what caused the pipe to fall and whether violations of federal regulations may have been involved.
As of Monday, the construction project at the Beaumont refiner remains shutdown, and all refinery maintenance activities remain suspended.
Commenting on this deadly refinery accident, ExxonMobil issued this statement:
On Dec. 1, a contractor was fatally injured in an incident at ExxonMobil’s construction project at the Beaumont refinery.
We are greatly saddened by this and express our deepest sympathy to the worker’s family and co-workers.
The person involved was immediately attended to by emergency responders.
We have notified the appropriate authorities and are working with them to investigate the cause of the incident.
History of Deadly Accidents at ExxonMobil’s Beaumont Refinery
Tragically, the recent death at the Beaumont refinery is not the only fatal accident that has occurred at this site. Other deadly incidents at this refinery have included a:
- May 2016 accident that killed a contract worker, Migauel Barron, when a falling pipe hit him on the head and neck – A subsequent investigation by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) revealed five violations contributing to this death, including failure to train employees on how to recognize unsafe conditions and failure to rig hoisted materials. This resulted in $67,000 in penalties.
- April 2013 accident, in which a flash fire killed two workers, Dustin Creekmore and Chad McDonald, and injured at least 10 others – The fire reportedly erupted at a shut hydrotreater heat exchanger that was undergoing maintenance.
ExxonMobile: Fatal Accidents beyond Beaumont
The deadly accidents at the Beaumont refinery are not the only fatalities to occur at ExxonMobile refineries. Over the years, various accidents have threatened or taken the lives of workers at a number of ExxonMobile refineries. Two noteworthy examples that captured national headlines include a:
- November 2016 accident at a Baton Rouge refinery – This involved a valve failure that released 2,000 pounds of flammable gas into the air. The gas was ignited by a welding machine, seriously injuring four. The ensuing investigation revealed “long-standing” reliability issues with various refinery equipment, as well as failures to maintain gearboxes and failures to train workers on how to safely remove them. Ultimately, OSHA issued 9 citations, with fines totaling $63,373.
- February 2015 accident at a Torrance refinery – This occurred when equipment failures caused an explosion that blasted 80,000 pounds of equipment, including debris and shrapnel-like fragments, about 100 feet. Four were seriously injured in this accident. The OSHA investigation, which resulted in 19 citations and fines of $566,600, uncovered violations like failures to maintain machinery, use of outdated equipment and failures to update safety procedures.
Whether ExxonMobile will be hit with OSHA citations and fines for the latest Beaumont refinery accident remains to be seen.