Statement of U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) Chairperson Sutherland on 12th Anniversary of the BP Texas City Refinery Disaster

Twelve years ago today, an explosion and fire ripped through the BP Texas City refinery in Texas City, Texas. Fifteen lives were lost and billions of dollars in fines and settlements resulted. On this anniversary day, we acknowledge those lives lost and offer our condolences to their family members. Our investigation revealed a lack of corporate management understanding and commitment to safety. As a result of our investigation, there is a new standard of care for corporate boards of directors and CEO's throughout the world, which calls for the same level of scrutiny for process safety management as financial management. Boards of directors of oil and chemical companies should examine every detail of their process safety programs to prevent future death and destruction, and the CSB challenges the industry to ask what reports, safety videos and educational tools they are using in their facilities. 

The lessons learned from the BP Texas City event reverberate twelve years later. That is a testament to the excellent investigative work that the CSB performed and continues to do each and every day. We are dedicated to uncovering the hidden catastrophic factors that put our fellow citizens at risk and wreak havoc on an important sector of our economy.  

The notion that safety is always good for the bottom line is not new – but it is most assuredly a principle that should be taken more seriously. Twelve years after the BP Texas City disaster – one of the deadliest industrial accidents in the history of the United States - there is still much to learn.