BP, OSHA Respond to Texas City Report

March 21, 2007
In response to a damning report released March 20 by the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) on the causes of the fatal 2005 explosion at BP's Texas City, Texas, refinery, BP Products North America Inc. promised that the company “will give full and careful consideration to CSB's recommendations” while OSHA vowed to launch a national emphasis program for refinery safety.

In the 335-page report, CSB investigators assert that “organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels” of BP caused the March 23, 2005, explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 180. CSB investigators also finger OSHA for failing to enforce the workplace safety agency's process safety management standard (29 CFR 1910.119, Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals) at petrochemical facilities such as BP's Texas City refinery.

OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr., in a brief statement issued March 20, did not address whether the agency shoulders any of the culpability for the Texas City accident. Instead, he said that the report “confirms OSHA's investigative findings that BP did not make safety and health a priority at its Texas City, Texas, facility.”

“OSHA levied the largest fine in the agency's history against BP and this year will conduct more than 100 refinery inspections,” Foulke said.

Foulke added that OSHA “is implementing a national emphasis program to ensure that every refinery under its jurisdiction is inspected and all employees are protected.”

BP Still Disagrees with Many of CSB's Findings

Although a statement issued by BP promised compliance with recommendations made by CSB in its report – “in conjunction with the many activities already underway to improve process safety management,” BP added – the company also reiterated its “strong disagreement with some of the content of the CSB report, particularly many of the findings and conclusions.”

BP emphasized that it cooperated with CSB's investigation, accepted responsibility for the accident and “apologized to those harmed.”

“While we cannot change the past or repair all the damage this incident caused, we have worked diligently to provide fair compensation, without the need for lengthy court proceedings, to those who were injured and to the families of those who died,” the company said.

BP also noted that it is implementing recommendations made earlier this year by an independent panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker and that the company “has taken significant steps to identify and address the causes” of the Texas City accident “in order to reduce risk and improve process safety management and performance at its five U.S. refineries.”

“BP and its employees are ready, willing and able to achieve the goal of becoming an industry leader in process safety management,” the company said.

For more on CSB's report, read "CSB: Lack of OSHA Oversight Played Role in BP Blast."

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