Sunday, August 07, 2005

OSHA to BP: "Enough is Enough"

OSHA is required to issue citations against BP Amoco by the end of September for the March 23 explosion that killed 15 and injured 150. We'll see then what the penalty will be, but the signs are that OSHA is none too pleased with the conditions its seen at BP:
In April, OSHA put BP’s operations on a national watch list. That list, which is not released publicly by the agency, is a compilation of safety violators in all industries the agency regulates.

OSHA regional director John Miles said BP is one of only two oil refiners on the list of 700. The other is a refinery in Kansas.

"The fact they are on that list says a lot," said Miles, who has oversight on workplace safety in a five-state region that includes Texas. "You have had four major incidents at that facility since (March 2004), and that is a concern."

In addition to the March 23 blasts and an explosion last week that did not result in any injures, but put the city under a Level 3 shelter-in-place order, the refinery has had two other incidents Miles referred to. In March 2004, a faulty ignition switch on a furnace at the refinery led to a blast and large fireball that had the city on edge.

No one was hurt in that incident.

But a pipeline burst in September resulted in the death of two BP workers and a third suffered severe burns.

OSHA cited BP for a willful violation and seven serious violations and fined the company $109,005 for the September incident. BP is contesting the findings.

Miles said BP needs to go beyond finding out what happened to cause the March 23 explosions that killed 15 people and injured more than 170. He believes the company needs to consider a fundamental change in its safety culture.

“At some point BP has to say, "enough is enough,’" said Miles. "I think that facility for BP (in Texas City) is at that point."
Better Late Than NeverMeanwhile, BP has announced that it will replace the type of equipment that caused the explosion at all five of the company's U.S. refineries.
By the end of the year, BP will replace three vent stacks — emergency systems that take in vapors and vent them to the atmosphere when pressure in a unit builds — with flares, a more modern technology that burns off the material, reducing the possibility that it could ignite.

On March 23, a 50-year-old vent stack on the company's isomerization unit — which boosts the octane content of gasoline — erupted into a geyser of flammable vapor that ignited, killing 15 and injuring 170.

BP's internal investigation into the blast found that the company had two opportunities to replace the stack — in 1995 and 2002. Had the company done so, the incident would have been less severe, the report found.

Related Stories

  • More on Second BP Incident, August 3, 2005
  • Another Day, Another Explosion at BP, August 1, 2005
  • Unsettling Questions at BP Texas City -- Wall St. Journal, July 27, 2005
  • BP's Bottom Line OK; Not So For Workers, July 5, 2005
  • Lessons From Texas City, June 29, 2005
  • 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

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