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2 workers burned by acid at Tesoro refinery

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POSTED March 10, 2014 6:24 p.m.

MARTINEZ (AP) — Two workers were burned by acid Monday at a Northern California refinery processing unit where a similar incident occurred last month, state health officials said.

The incident occurred just before 11 a.m. Monday when two workers were sprayed with sulfuric acid at Tesoro’s Golden Eagle Refinery, said Lacey Friedman, a Contra Costa County hazardous materials specialist.

The workers were conducting planned maintenance when they cut into a pipe that carried the acid, which is used to produce butylene, a chemical that is used to increase the octane rating of gasoline.

Friedman said both workers escaped serious injury because they were wearing protective suits. According to officials, they were decontaminated in a shower at the refinery and then taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek.

“These were not serious injuries that necessitated a burn unit,” Friedman said.

One of the workers has already been released, she said, and the other remains at the hospital under observation and is “in good spirits.”

Peter Melton, a spokesman for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said his agency would also conduct an investigation of the incident.

Meanwhile, it is already conducting a probe of a similar accident that occurred at the same facility on Feb. 12, in which two workers suffered first- and second-degree burns when a pipe burst.

Those workers were not wearing protective garments at the time.

After the February incident, Tesoro company officials at first attempted to block the U.S. Chemical Safety Board from investigating the refinery but relented when the board issued a subpoena, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“The cause of the incident is under investigation and is unrelated to the chemical release that occurred on Feb. 12,” Tina Barbee, a Tesoro spokeswoman, said in a statement.

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