20 March 2007 15:36 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US chemical safety officials faulted BP on Tuesday for the March 2005 Texas refinery explosion that killed 15 workers, saying in their final report that BP’s flawed safety culture, constant budget pressures and inadequate training led to the fatal blast.
The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) also blamed what it termed aging infrastructure at the BP refinery in ?xml:namespace>
The 23 March 2005 blast occurred during the restart of the refinery’s isomerisation unit, said the board, which was installed in the mid-1980s to provide higher octane for unleaded gasoline.
During the restart procedure, there was a geyser-like eruption of liquid hydrocarbons, which was ignited by a diesel truck idling nearby, according to the CSB’s final report.
The CSB said faulty alarms and control instrumentation lead to false indications, which failed to notify operators of the high levels of hydrocarbons in the unit’s 170-foot tower.
The report also cited worker fatigue and inadequate training as well as an antiquated venting design.
“Beginning in 2002, BP Group and
“In particular,” said the board, “managers received warnings about serious deficiencies regarding the mechanical integrity of aging equipment, process safety and the negative safety impacts of budget cuts and production pressures.”
The report said that BP focused instead on workers’ personal safety rather than on process safety and the prevention of catastrophic accidents.
“Financial and personal safety metrics largely drove BP Group and Texas City performance, to the point that BP managers increased performance site bonuses even in the face of three fatalities in 2004,” the report said.
BP has disagreed with the assertion that cost-cutting measures played a role in the explosion.
In a separate report issued 16 January, an independent safety panel headed by former
BP said in its 2006 annual report that it has set up a $1.6bn (€1.2bn) fund to cover accident costs and settlements with relatives of those who were killed and hundreds of others who filed injury claims. The company said it has concluded more than 1,000 settlements.
In addition to the CSB investigation - which carries no fines or other sanctions - there is a criminal investigation of the accident under way at the US Department of Justice.
($1 = €0.75)
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