Valero Refinery Fire Death

Sadly, Nicolas Cuevas, one of three contract workers injured in a flash fire last week at Valero Energy Corp.’s (VLO) oil refinery in Memphis, Tenn., died Saturday afternoon, Valero spokesman Bill Day said.

“We have learned that Mr. Nicholas Cuevas passed away today (Saturday) at the Regional Medical Center. Valero extends its thoughts and prayers to the Cuevas family and the JVIC organization. We continue to pray for the full recovery of the other injured contractors,” Day said.

Cuevas, who was as a mechanical craftsman, had burns over 90 percent of his body.

Cuevas’s brother, Daniel, along with another man whose name was not available were also hurt. One had burns on 60 to 70 percent of his body. The second man suffered burns on 30 percent of his body.

Both are still being treated at The Med. Their conditions, however, have not been released. The men’s ages are 26, 33 and 35.

The flash fire happened around 3 p.m. Tuesday when the three men were working on a flare platform venting gases. Flares are the torch-like towers topped by fire at the refinery that act as safety devices where pressurized gases can be routed and consumed when necessary.

Valero and JVIC, in full cooperation with governmental authorities, are investigating the cause of the incident.

The Memphis refinery, which is able to process up to 195,000 barrels of crude oil a day, has racked up 12 violations with OSHA in the past 6 years, costing the company more than $100,000 in fines.

A fire at the refinery stopped production in August 2011, and three people were injured during another fire at the plant in April of 2010, making this last incident the third fire in two years.