22 September 2005 18:14 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US officials said on Thursday that BP will pay more than $21m (Euro17.2m) in penalties for safety and health violations regarding the 23 March explosion at its Texas City, Texas refinery.?xml:namespace>
The accident killed 15 persons and injured more than 170 others. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said the fine is nearly double its previous highest penalty.
"We know this settlement can never replace the lives that were lost or comfort the families that were devastated by this tragedy. But the agreement means that BP Products employees will be working in safer facilities because BP will be making the necessary safety and health upgrades," said Jonathan Snare, acting OSHA administrator.
The accident occurred when a cloud of hydrocarbon vapors escaped and ignited during start up of the refinery’s isomerization unit.
The settlement also addresses other ongoing investigations at the Texas City refinery and requires BP to address process safety management plant-wide.
Under the settlement, BP will pay $21,361,500 in penalties and abate all hazards for which it was cited. It will determine how the isomerization unit can be operated safely and alert OSHA when the unit is restarted.
BP must retain a process safety management consultant to analyze its pressure relief systems, safety instrumented systems, human factor analysis, and other systems.
Under the agreement, BP must also hire consultants to assess and report on communication within and between management, supervisors, and authorized employee representatives and non-management employees.
BP also will be subject to closer OSHA reporting on occupational injuries and illnesses and must upgrade the health and safety training for workers.
The agreement resolves more than 300 separate alleged violations of OSHA safety regulations in the areas of process safety management, maintenance, training, procedures and facility siting.
BP said the agreement does not mean that it admits to the alleged violations.
"We have worked with OSHA in a cooperative and comprehensive manner and we are very pleased to have achieved this agreement. We fully endorse the corrective actions required by the settlement," said Ross Pillari, president of BP Products North America.
Separately, BP also settled OSHA alleged violations stemming from a September 2004 accident that killed two workers and seriously injured a third. The company will pay a $102,500 fine as part of this settlement.
The company said it continues to cooperate with the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regarding the Texas City explosion and related concerns.
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