Late last week the USW lost five sisters and brothers who were killed at work following an explosion and fire at the Anacortes, WA Tesoro oil refinery. Two others (one USW member and one supervisor – who was a long time union member) are critically burned and are currently in a Seattle hospital burn ward. We received notice of this incident early Friday morning. Since then, our thoughts have continually been focused on the tragic loss experienced by the families in Anacortes. There are no words to express the sorrow for these families and for the others at this workplace.
This is a major and devastating explosion – the deadliest in the oil refining industry since the 2005 BP Texas City explosion. The USW is taking this extremely seriously. We will work diligently with our sisters and brothers at USW Local Union 12-591 to identify what went wrong so that we can correct the problem at the Tesoro plant and share this information with our fellow workers at refineries everywhere. We will also work with the local union as they mourn and grieve for the losses of their sisters and brothers. We will work with Washington OSHA, Federal OSHA, the US Chemical Safety Board, other regulators and elected officials to ensure that the incident is properly investigated, encourage enforcement, and to promote necessary changes to laws and regulations.
Daniel Aldridge, Matthew Bowen, Darrin Hoines, Kathryn Powell, and Donna Van Dreumel were killed at work and two others were gravely injured this weekend. The victims will join the list of ten other members who were fatality injured at work from this local union as well as the list of ten other USW members killed at work so far this year. They also join countless other workers killed and injured at oil refineries around the globe. There is much media attention on Tesoro and safety in oil refining currently. A Google search on Monday afternoon indicates that there are almost 8,000 articles currently available on Tesoro, mostly about this incident.
It is the role of the USW to make certain that we learn the lessons from this and every incident to share them with workers and continually struggle for improved regulations and laws to protect our members’ health and safety and the well being of the environment. It is our Union’s role to work with the industry and these employers to implement improvements to address the issues and concerns. And it is the Union’s role to keep other workers in similar workplaces informed of the hazards that we find and the solutions we seek to implement. Please keep in touch with us for further information.