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Valero fined months after fatal fire

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MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – The images from Chopper 5 chronicled the aftermath of a catastrophe last March at the Valero refinery in South Memphis as emergency responders tended to badly burned survivors of a fire that left another worker dead.

Six months later, the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the company for 16 alleged violations.

The reasons are detailed in a report obtained by Action News 5.

Each violation is considered "serious."  One of them is for failing to provide "protective equipment, including protective clothing" wherever it was necessary.

Proposed penalties total $63,000. 

The report found the injured or killed workers were unnecessarily exposed to flammable vapors that ignited while they installed a flange on a 36 inch outlet pipe.

"They're supposed to be well-covered with safety hazards and things," said neighbor Shonta Andrews.

She regularly passes Valero on her way to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and figured refinery work was dangerous.

"I guess working with all those chemicals and things like that," said Andrews.

She believes the company should be held accountable if proper procedures were not in place to protect workers.

"So there won't be any more fatal accidents like that," said Andrews.

A hearing on this matter is forthcoming.  Valero can appeal the state's findings.  The company had no comment because of a previously filed lawsuit.   

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