06 July 2005 00:50 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (CNI)--The United Steelworkers (USW) union Tuesday called for BP to apologise and rehire operators who were fired in the wake of the 23 March Texas City, Texas refinery explosion.
The union cited findings by the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) last week that process instrumentation malfunctioned prior to the explosion.
USW president Leo Gerard said: "BP continues to hold onto the stubborn belief that this tragic incident wouldn't have occurred if the operators and their supervisors had followed procedures. How could they perform their jobs adequately if the equipment they were depending on wasn't functioning properly?"
The CSB said alarms failed to sound and process instrumentation malfunctioned prior to the explosion at the refinery’s isomerisation unit. An overflow of flammable hydrocarbons ignited, killing 15 contract workers and injuring 170.
According to BP’s own interim findings, a series of mistakes by employees before and during start-up of the isomerisation unit was a factor in the deadly blast. BP said it took disciplinary action - ranging from warnings to termination - against supervisory and hourly employees directly responsible for operations at the isomerisation unit.
BP spokesman Hugh Depland said the company stands by its findings and actions. Had the written procedures been followed, he said, abnormal levels of hydrocarbons in the raffinate splitter tower of the isomerisation unit never would have occurred.
“Had people followed procedures, this accident would not have happened,” Depland said.
Depland said BP’s interim findings were consistent with those of the CSB.
BP said Tuesday it expects to incur blast-related charges in its 2005 second quarter results.
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