BP Agrees to Safety Improvements at Texas City Following Settlement with OSHA
22 September 2005, BP Products North America Inc. will undertake corrective actions at the company’s Texas City refinery as part of a settlement reached today with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Under the settlement, BP will:
* Hire and assign a process safety expert to the refinery to review safety programs, offer recommendations and provide periodic reports on the refinery’s progress
* Hire and assign to the refinery an organizational expert to study the refinery’s communication with respect to safety and its safety commitment and offer recommendations for improvement
* Upgrade the health and safety training provided refinery workers
BP will submit plans for implementation of other corrective measures to OSHA in coming weeks.
The agreement resolves more than 300 separate alleged violations of OSHA safety regulations in the areas of process safety management, maintenance, training, procedures and facility siting put forward by the agency after its investigation of a March 23 explosion that claimed the lives of 15 Texas City workers. BP will pay OSHA a fine of $21.3 million. Under the agreement, BP does not admit the alleged violations or agree with the way OSHA has characterized them.
“We have worked with OSHA in a cooperative and comprehensive manner and we are very pleased to have achieved this agreement. We fully endorse the corrective actions required by the settlement,” said Ross Pillari, president of BP Products North America. “We will apply the learnings from this and other investigations to make the Texas City Refinery a safer place.”
BP has already begun to implement a number of safety enhancements and corrective actions at the refinery. BP has fully cooperated with OSHA’s investigation of the incidents and will continue to work cooperatively with OSHA as it moves forward with its corrective actions.
BP published an interim incident investigation report May 17th identifying critical factors which caused the March explosion and increased its severity. A final incident investigation report identifying system and root causes will be published in coming weeks.
In a separate agreement, BP today also settled OSHA alleged violations stemming from a September, 2004 accident that claimed the lives of two workers and seriously injured a third worker at the refinery. The company will pay a $102,500 fine as part of this settlement.
Notes to Editors
BP has accepted responsibility for the March 23rd explosion.
The company has set aside $700 million to compensate victims of the explosion and has worked to resolve claims arising from the incident. Settlements have been achieved with the families of most of the workers who died and with many workers who suffered serious injuries.
BP continues to cooperate with the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regarding the Texas City explosion and related concerns.
In its May 17th interim investigation report, the BP incident investigation team concluded that:
* Failure to evacuate workers from temporary office trailers near the F-20 blow down stack prior to startup of the raffinate splitter tower, and failure to warn those workers of a major process upset and loss of containment during the startup greatly increased the number of people killed and injured by the explosion.
* The use of a pressure relief system routed to a flare or closed relief system would have reduced the severity of the incident.
* The explosion and fire occurred because established procedures were not followed in the restart of the raffinate splitter tower, and it was grossly overfilled beyond its operational limits. The fluid level in the tower just prior to the explosion was 20 times higher than it should have been.
BP continues to make corrective actions recommended in the May 17 report. The company has appointed a new refinery manager, a new health, safety, security and environment manager and a new maintenance manager.
The Texas City Refinery organization has been simplified to ensure everyone involved in maintenance and operation of the refinery knows what they are accountable for and to whom they are accountable. Roles, responsibilities and expectations around start-up, operating, maintenance and evacuation procedures have been clarified. Action has been taken to ensure procedures are followed across the site.
The company has prohibited the occupancy of office trailers within 500 feet of blow down stacks and flares and has leased a 100,000-square foot building in downtown Texas City to provide offices for employees whose work does not require their presence at the refinery.
On a longer-term basis, the company will halt the venting of heavier-than-air hydrocarbon vapors from blow-down systems in the refinery.
For more information on BP Texas City, please go to the BP Response website: www.bpresponse.org
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