Tosco Agrees to Pay $2 Million in Fatal Fire

Times Staff and Wire Reports

Tosco Corp. agreed to pay about $2 million in fines and restitution after pleading no contest to criminal charges stemming from a refinery explosion and fire last year that killed four workers and seriously injured a fifth. In a settlement with the Contra Costa County district attorney's office, Tosco will pay the maximum fine of $945,000, contribute $1 million toward a new health clinic in the Northern California city of Pittsburg and pay up to $100,000 in county investigative and legal costs. The five misdemeanor charges were the result of a Feb. 23 explosion and fire at Tosco's Avon refinery in Martinez, near San Francisco. Dist. Atty. Gary T. Yancey said the charges were the most severe that could be brought under the law that existed at the time of the accident. As of Jan. 1, industrial accidents that result in death or serious injury can result in stiffer penalties. Tosco spokesman Jeff Lyon said that Tosco had made adjustments to address safety concerns at its plants. Cal/OSHA, the state's worker safety agency, in August said Tosco failed to correct hazards that resulted in the fatal fire and hit the oil company with record penalties of $810,750.

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