The tragedy at BP's Texas City refinery resulted in 15 workers being killed and more than 170 injured. Four additional fatal incidents have occurred at the facility since the explosion.
OSHA has undertaken 17 inspections and issued hundreds of citations, leading to a series of agreements to abate hazards and protect refinery workers. The agency cited more than 400 willful violations of its process safety management standard.
A timeline of the history at the refinery is as follows:
- March 2005 -- explosion and fire in the isomerization unit kills 15 contractor employees and injures at least 170 employees and contractors.
- September 2005 -- a settlement agreement is signed. OSHA issues fines totaling more than $21 million, the highest penalty issued to that time.
- January 2007 -- a report identifies a number of systemic process safety issues at BP refineries in the U.S.
- March 2007 -- the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board releases a report, saying the Texas City disaster "was caused by organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP Corporation."
- May 2009 -- a comprehensive monitoring inspection is initiated, resulting in alleged violations and proposed penalties because the facility "did not comply with the September 2005 agreement."
- September 2009 -- deadline passes for BP to complete abatement outlined in the 2005 settlement agreement.
- October 2009 -- OSHA issues Notification of Failure to Abate and willful citations with proposed penalties of more than $87 million.
- August 2010 -- OSHA and BP agree for the refinery to pay $50.6 million penalty for failure to abate violations. Also implements third-party oversight of BP processes for relief and safety instrumented system evaluation, enhanced progress reporting.
The new agreement calls for BP to pay a penalty for citations stemming from the 2009 monitoring inspection. Also, it says all violations covered in the settlement have been or will be corrected by Dec. 31. However, 30 citations remain unresolved and will be litigated or settled in the future.
"Protecting workers and saving lives is the ultimate goal of this agreement," said Hilda L. Solis, secretary of Labor. "For the workers at BP's Texas City refinery, this settlement will help establish a culture of safety."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 23, 2012
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