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OSHA keeping an eye on BP refinery

As BP continues its efforts to bring its 1,200-acre Texas City refinery back online, the work is being watched closely by OSHA, the Galveston County Daily News reports. Agency inspectors have been conducting unit-by-unit oversight of the work.

OSHA’s onsite observations were a part of a $21 million fine and settlement BP signed with the federal agency following OSHA’s investigation into the March 23, 2005 explosions that killed 15 people.

The company was cited for more than 300 safety violations.

Early last month, that oversight entered a new phase, one in which OSHA officials are going unit by unit and meeting directly with BP employees and contractors.

BP spokesman Neil Geary described OSHA’s more recent inspections as something different from those required under the settlement. OSHA — in teams of two to three investigators — is looking closer at the safety procedures involving contractors at the refinery.

“The on-site observations going on are all part of the settlement agreement,” said Elizabeth Todd, an agency spokeswoman. “This is just another phase of it. OSHA conducts follow ups on all significant cases, and this one obviously is monumental.”

The refinery has been shut down since late September. The company is currently working to get at least initial gasoline production units back online. Geary said that there are more than 4,000 people working around the clock within the refinery.

Geary would not offer a comment on how soon the first units would restart at the refinery.

The refinery has been shut down since before Hurricane Rita threatened the Texas Gulf Coast. BP decided to take advantage of the hurricane shutdown to conduct a complete overhaul of the refinery in response to the OSHA citation and fine.

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