US petroleum industry fails to heed key lessons – safety board

24 July 2012 15:36  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US petroleum industry and its regulators had failed to learn critical lessons from the 2005 BP Texas City refinery explosion at the time of the offshore Deepwater Horizon blowout five years later, the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) said on Tuesday.

In preliminary findings to be released on Tuesday, the CSB said it found Transocean and BP, trade associations and US regulators largely judged the safety of offshore facilities by focusing on personal injury and fatality data such as dropped objects and slips, trips and falls, which overshadowed the use of leading indicators more focused on managing the potential for catastrophic accidents.

The CSB said it first recommended the use of such process safety indicators in its 2007 report on the deadly March 2005 Texas City refinery disaster.

“In the offshore arena, potential indicators – such as timely checks on safety critical equipment and response to well control events – would provide an assessment of the health of their safety management systems,” the safety board said.

“These type of indicators may be precursors to the kind of tragedy that took eleven lives on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig following the Macondo well blowout [in the US Gulf] on April 20, 2010."

Noting the lack of sustained focus on process safety, CSB investigator Cheryl MacKenzie described an “eerie resemblance” between the 2005 explosion at the BP Texas City refinery and the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon.

The CSB was conducting a public hearing in Houston.

By: Brian Ford
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