NM oil refinery to pay $400K fine over explosion

SANTA FE, N.M. -- An oil refinery in New Mexico will pay a $400,000 fine in a settlement over safety violations stemming from an explosion that killed two employees and injured two others.

The New Mexico Environment Department and Navajo Refining of Artesia entered a settlement agreement for citations issued by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The explosion occurred when employees of Northwest Insulation of Texas were performing welding operations on top of a storage tank at the refinery on March 2, 2010.

A welder ignited vapors from flammable liquids within the tank. The resulting explosion ripped open the top of the tank and the ensuing fire burned for more than an hour before being extinguished.

OSHA officials say Navajo Refining doesn't admit fault, but agreed to settle for the fine.