Patty in the News

SEATTLE -- One year ago, seven workers at a refinery in Anacortes died in an explosion.

And to honor the victims, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., introduced a resolution on the floor of U.S. Senate Thursday morning, recognizing the anniversary of the tragedy.

Murray spoke emotionally about the toll of the tragedy on the families of the killed workers as well as the community. The senator is using the resolution to hold the refinery accountable to help prevent another tragedy.

"These are men and women who were taken far too young with so much life to live and so many people to live it with," Murray said.

All the victims were working around a heat exchanger when it ruptured, spraying vapors that immediately exploded and sent flames shooting into the Anacortes sky on April 2, 2010.

Killed in the explosion were: Daniel J. Aldridge, 50, of Anacortes; Matthew C. Bowen, 31; of Arlington; Darrin J. Hoines, 43, of Ferndale; Kathryn Powell, 29, of Burlington; Donna Van Dreumel, 36, of Oak Harbor; Matt Gumbel, 34, of Oak Harbor, and Lew Janz, 41.

A state investigation blamed Tesoro for failing to inspect and maintain the 40-year-old heat exchanger. Investigators determined the refinery willfully disregarded safety regulations, and the state assessed a record $2.4 million fine. Tesoro appealed the fine in January.

Murray says we owe it to those seven victims to make sure nothing like this happens again.

"The problems that led to what happened were known beforehand, and they should have been fixed. And that is heartbreaking," she said.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., joined Murray in recognizing the anniversary.

State and federal investigators say safety problems in the refinery industry are so troubling that it's just a matter of time before another tragedy strikes.