According to BP spokesman last month, the explosion was caused by "deeply disturbing" mistakes made by the plant's workers -- their failure to follow procedures and take corrective action sooner. To show that they were serious, BP fired several of them. So much for that.
Of course, a little further down in the Interim Report that was released that day, the company admits that it had failed to replace a dangerous "blowdown drum" that collects flammable liquids when the system over pressurizes. It was the blowdown drum that overflowed, causing the explosion.
New information has now been released showing that it would have been difficult for the workers to take corrective action because
Alarms that should have warned BP Texas City refinery operators that they were overflowing a tower with dangerous hydrocardons did not sound in the critical hours and minutes before a fatal explosion, federal investigators said today.And that's not all:
In addition, a fluid level indicator in the tower malfunctioned, he said. That led the operators to believe that the amount of flammable fluid was normal, even decreasing, when, in fact, it was dangerously increasing.These findings, announced today by investigators from the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, confirm a worker's statement obtained by the Houston Chronicle:
"The operators thought that the tower level was dropping according to their indications," said the worker, who asked not to be named.BP's right. The whole thing is 'deeply distrubing' and gets more disturbing every day.
Level indicators inside the isomerization unit's raffinate splitter tower were likely malfunctioning, the source said.
But the operator working in the control room did not suspect the malfunctions because the computers were showing fluctuating levels, all within a normal range, as opposed to the level being stuck at one place, the source said.
"It appeared to be working correctly," the worker said.
- BP Pays Off, Big and Fast, June 23, 2005
- BP Scapegoats Aren't Taking It; Sue Company, June 22, 2005
- Preventing Future Refinery Disasters: Real Sanctions or More Voluntary Alliances?, June 13, 2005
- BP To Incompetent Workers: “Nevermind … or Not? May 25, 2005
- BP: Corporate Scapegoating? May 23, 2005
- Blaming The Worker: In Texas City and On the Rails, May 18, 2005
- Refinery Deaths and Injuries Hidden By Flawed OSHA Recordkeeping Rules, May 16, 2005
- BP Kills More Than Any Other Refining Firm, May 15, 2005
- "I Should Have Been Killed" -- Survivors of Texas City BP Blast, April 19, 2005
- BP Amoco Texas City Update: Plant Owners Aware of Venting and Trailer Location, Hazards, April 10, 2005
- Workplace Safety Enforcement: A Tale of Two Countries, April 5, 2005
- Transparency? Or PR Savvy?, March 26, 2005
- BP In California: "callous and intentional noncompliance purely for economic reasons", March 24, 2005
- BP, site of fatal explosion, is Nation's Leader in Accidents, March 24, 2005
- At Least 14 Dead, Hundreds Injured In Huge Refinery Explosion, March 23, 2005