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BP fined $21 million for deadly explosion; agrees to improve safety

As part of a settlement agreement with OSHA, BP Products North America, Inc. has agreed to pay more than $21 million in penalties for safety and health violations following an investigation of a fatal explosion at its Texas City, Texas, plant March 23 that killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 others. The penalties are part of a settlement agreement announced Sept. 22 by OSHA.

The agreement, announced Sept. 22, settles citations issued against BP Products following the fatal explosion at the Texas City refinery complex caused by a fire in the Isomerization Unit (ISOM) when a cloud of hydrocarbon vapors ignited during the start-up of the ISOM. The settlement also addresses other ongoing investigations at the Texas City Refinery and requires BP Products to address process safety management (PSM) plant-wide.

"This citation and penalty — nearly double the next largest fine in OSHA history — sends a strong message to all employers about the need to protect workers and to make health and safety a core value," Solicitor of Labor Howard M. Radzely stated. "BP will pay the full fine, abate all the hazards and significantly improve their safety measures."

Under terms of the settlement, BP Products agreed to:

  • pay $21,361,500 in penalties and abate all hazards for which they were cited;

  • complete a review of the ISOM unit to determine how it can be operated safely and alert OSHA if and when a decision is made to start up the unit in the future;

  • retain a firm with expertise in process safety management (PSM), including pressure relief systems, safety instrumented systems, human factor analysis and performing process safety audits, to conduct a refinery-wide comprehensive audit and analysis of the company's PSM systems;

  • hire an expert to assess and report on communication within and between management, supervisors and authorized employee representatives and non-management employees and the impact of the communication on implementation of safety practices and procedures;

  • submit to OSHA and BP Products' authorized employee representative, every six months for three years, logs of occupational injuries and illnesses ("OSHA 300 Logs") and all incident reports related to PSM issues;

  • notify the OSHA area office of any incident or injury at the Texas City facility that results in an employee losing one or more workdays during the same three-year period.

    BP Products North America Inc. is part of BP of London, England, which engages in petroleum exploration and refining. The Texas City refinery, where the explosion occurred, is BP's largest oil refinery with 30 process units spread over 1,200 acres and 1,600 permanent employees.

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