BP settles charges from follow-up probe of Texas City blast

BP Products North America Inc. has agreed to pay $13 million in fines to settle more than 400 process safety violations at its Texas City, Tex., refinery identified in a 2009 follow-up investigation of a 2005 explosion at the facility that killed 15 workers, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported. The company has resolved 409 of the 439 citations and is expected to abate the others by yearend, it said.

OSHA cited BP for a then-record $21 million in September 2005 after its initial investigation of the accident and reached an agreement with the company requiring it to complete 660 abatement requirements and process safety recommendations in the next 4 years, the company said in its announcement of the settlement.

It noted that in October 2009, OSHA said BP had not met deadlines and other requirements in the 2005 agreement and issued 270 failure to abate notices related to the initial citations as well as 439 new ones. The company settled the 270 allegations stemming from the 2005 agreement in August 2010 and most of the 439 new citations in the latest agreement, BP said on July 12. Discussions will continue on the 30 outstanding notices, it indicated.

“BP is committed to workplace safety. A strong relationship with OSHA is part of that commitment,” said Iain Conn, BP PLC’s global head of refining and marketing. “We respect OSHA and have worked to address [its] concerns in this latest agreement.”

OSHA said BP used procedures outlined in the 2010 settlement to reach the latest agreement. The company was required to hire independent experts to monitor its safety improvement efforts and spend another $500 million to improve safety procedures at the 406,000 b/d refinery, the US Department of Labor agency said.

BP said it spent more than $1 billion for safety and infrastructure improvements from 2005 to 2009 in addition to the $500 million specified in the 2010 settlement. The company also has formed a partnership with the United Steelworkers (USW) to establish front-line involvement in process safety management, it said.

“BP shares the USW’s focus on worker safety and an injury-free workplace,” BP Products North America Pres. Steve Cornell said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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