HOUSTON, Dec 23 (Reuters) - U.S. worker safety regulators are investigating working conditions at the nation’s second-largest refinery during Hurricane Gustav in early September, according to officials on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the agency is investigating a complaint about safety at Exxon Mobil Corp’s (XOM.N) Baton Rouge, Louisiana, refinery filed in early September, but declined to provide further details.
The president of the local union representing workers at the 503,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery said the complaint was filed after workers had to manually shut refinery units in 90-mile-per-hour (145 kph) winds after electrical power to the refinery was knocked out by the storm on Sept. 1.
“They double- and triple-manned for the hurricane and what they didn’t plan for was when we lose our power, our steam, our nitrogen and these guys have to go out in hurricane winds with debris flying and shut things down,” said Randy Frederic, president of United Steelworkers Local 13-12.
“We’ve gone through too many storms where we have to send people out into hurricanes,” Frederic said.
An Exxon spokesman declined to discuss the investigation.
“I can tell you we are cooperating fully but I can’t really comment further for obvious reasons,” said Exxon’s Kevin Allexon. (Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Marguerita Choy)