CITGOCitgo Refining and Chemicals Co. LP has been cited for five safety violations by OSHA, which opened an inspection at the company's Corpus Christi facility upon receiving a complaint that employees had been exposed to a leak of hydrofluoric acid at a flange in the alkylation unit while performing maintenance work. Proposed penalties total $66,500.

"This employer did not have proper safeguards in place to protect employees from the release of toxic chemicals," said Michael Rivera, OSHA's area director in Corpus Christi. "By not following OSHA's standard for process safety management, employees at the facility and the surrounding community were placed in danger."

Process safety management involves a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers follow to proactively address hazards associated with processes and equipment that involve large amounts of hazardous chemicals. More information on OSHA's standard is available at

OSHA's Corpus Christi Area Office identified four serious violations related to the company's process safety management program, including failing to properly record process safety information, ensure that the process hazard analysis is accurate, ensure that equipment complies with the required engineering practices, secure operating procedure certification and provide a satisfactory relief valve design.

One repeat violation is failing to follow modification procedures in the alkylation unit. A similar violation was cited in January 2010.

The Tulsa, Okla.-based company is a subsidiary of Houston-based CITGO Petroleum Corp., and employs about 3,500 workers nationwide with 550 in Corpus Christi.