Almost in time to mark the awful anniversary of Tesoro’s deadly refinery explosion at Anacortes last year, we have preliminary findings into the cause—and federal investigators are blaming the company:
Tesoro Corp. (TSO) didn’t adequately maintain equipment at its Anacortes, Washington, refinery prior to an explosion that killed seven workers last April, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board said.
Tesoro still won’t accept blame for the incident, and the company says they look forward to “clarifying the facts.”
While we’re clarifying things, here are a few additional facts that “clarify” the last two months of Tesoro operations.
In early March, an equipment failure at Tesoro’s refinery in Hawaii resulted in the company flaring as much as 1,500 pounds of hazardous sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. A couple of weeks before that, Tesoro spilled 700 gallons of diesel into the harbor at Long Beach, California. That was just a week after Tesoro’s problem-plagued Bay Area refinery at Martinez had an apparently minor flare-up. And that was just a day after Tesoro’s Salt Lake City refinery experienced another power outage that resulted in releasing sulfur dioxide.
In other words, it was a pretty typical two months for Tesoro.
If you’d like a more complete accounting of the company’s recent problems, you can start with: “More Bad News For Tesoro” (2/14/11); “What Has Tesoro Done Lately?” (1/15/11); “Another Tesoro Flare-Up” (11/11/10); “One More Time: Who Is Tesoro?” (10/25/10) and “Who Is Tesoro?” (10/5/10).
One problem Tesoro is not having, however, is keeping their stock price up. Despite a terrible record of work safety and environmental protection, the refiner’s stock price continues to set new 52-week highs. It’s evidence, I suppose, that even for a demonstrated bad actor, the current regulatory environment doesn’t really take a bite out of profits.