By Russell Carollo
Cox News Service
Karl Hurt's skin was melting as petroleum vapor exploded into a
"All I could see was fire. I didn't know I was burned," said Hurt,
recovering from his injuries. "I stood there for a second, and
then I ran.
"I looked down and saw the meat on my arms was charred. The pain
really bad until they started taking the bad part off."
Hurt was burned in the August 1989 explosion at Phillips 66's
Complex in Pasadena, Texas. A co-worker, 24-year-old Darrell
Quinn, was burned
so badly that 45 hours of surgery couldn't save him. He died
Christmas Day 1989.
Phillips, a $12-billion-a-year company based in Bartlesville, was
fined $720 by
the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Two months later, another explosion _ spewing debris for miles and
on earthquake instruments at Rice University _ shook the same
plant. This time,
23 people died and 314 were injured.
It was the worst industrial accident in the history of OSHA, and
the $5.7 million
fine was the second largest ever proposed. Phillips is appealing.
Union investigators blamed both explosions on poorly trained
who opened valves by mistake.
These explosions were among dozens of chemical accidents killing
hundreds, displacing thousands and causing tens of millions of
dollars in damages
Meanwhile, regulations addressing many of the apparent causes _
better training for contract workers _ were tangled in a federal
OSHA proposed tougher chemical plant regulations after a
disaster in Bhopal, India, killed more than 2,000 people in 1984.
That was nearly
seven years ago.
"It's not an unusual time frame for a standard," said OSHA's
whose staff is writing the regulations. "We've had some that have
taken 15 years."
But Mike Wright of the United Steelworkers of America said, "It's
an OSHA official to say six years is not a long time when it costs
OSHA's proposal addressed chemical plant maintenance, employee
protective clothing and disaster plans.
But work on the proposal stalled. Why it stalled is disputed.
OSHA's Pierce said the agency decided to stop the work. But unions
OSHA official said the federal Office of Management and Budget
refused to let
OSHA continue. …