Valero sues manufacturer over faulty boiler

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Mar 24, 2010

GALVESTON - Valero is suing a number of businesses and individuals over what the San Antonio-based refiner alleges to be a faulty boiler.

Valero filed a lawsuit March 12 in Galveston County Court No. 3 alleging the defendants, chief among them manufacturer The Babcock & Wilcox Co., of exercising irresponsibility in either the design, construction or installation of the "B-28" boiler.

The plaintiff entered into many contracts with the defendants regarding the B-28 and other package boiler systems, which are used at Valero's Texas City, Houston and Wilmington, Del., refineries, the original petition says.

According to the complaint, the boiler in question failed to operate properly on several occasions.

One incident on March 5, 2009, involved a detonation in the firebox, which forced an immediate shutdown of the boiler. A subsequent investigation revealed a loss of the boiler's main flame.

Another one on Dec. 4, 2009, spurred from a startup failure that eventually led to a blast killing one worker and injuring two. An "unexpected and undesigned" mixture of air and fuel gas inside the firebox reportedly ignited the blaze.

The Southeast Texas Record reported in December 2009 that one of the injured workers filed a temporary restraining order against two boilermaking companies in an effort to prevent the removal of material from the alleged scene of the explosion at Valero's Texas City plant.

The Record also reported a month later that the family of the deceased worker filed a $75,000 suit against the company. The case contains the same restraining order.

Valero claims the boiler's alleged defects constitute negligence and numerous breaches of contract and warranties, faulting the defendants for misrepresenting the boiler's effectiveness.

"As a direct and proximate result, Valero suffered damages," the suit says.

The plaintiff, which is represented by Houston attorneys Lance Lubel and Justin R. Goodman, seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Galveston County Court No. 3 Judge Roy Quintanilla is presiding over the litigation.

Cause No. 62,510

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