Oil company issues report on March blast | VailDaily.com

Oil company issues report on March blast

TEXAS – Management tolerated risks and didn’t stress safety before a Texas City oil refinery blast that killed 15 employees and injured more than 170, plant owner BP PLC said Friday in its final report on the explosion.BP, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, said in a news release that its investigation team “found no evidence of anyone consciously or intentionally taking actions or decisions that put others at risk.”Still, the second of two BP internal reports said “the team found many areas where procedures, policies and expected behaviors were not met.”The refinery erupted March 23 in a fiery blast that shook homes as far as five miles away and sent a towering plume of black smoke into the sky. The explosion, which occurred when part of the plant was being restarted, resulted in numerous lawsuits and millions in fines and settlements paid by BP.BP’s 192-page report Friday said management did not make safety a priority, tolerated risks, failed to communicate and lacked an early warning system.”The report clearly describes the underlying causes and management system failures which contributed to the worst tragedy in BP’s recent history,” Ross Pillari, president of BP Products North America Inc., said in a statement. “We accept the findings and we are working to make Texas City a complex that attains the highest levels of safety, reliability and environmental performance.”Last month, BP released an anonymous survey of Texas City BP workers that found the refinery’s top priority was making money and managers neglected safety in the months before the explosion.Friday’s report also cited interviewees who “noted safety did not seem to be a priority, particularly as compared to cost management, for example.”In August, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board issued an urgent safety recommendation for the first time in its history, calling for an independent panel to spend 12 months reviewing safety management and culture issues.That mandate came after several BP safety incidents. In July there was a hydrogen fire in another part of the Texas City refinery. The next month a hole developed in a valve that handles high-pressure gas and oil, prompting a community order for residents to stay in their homes. Also in August, there was a process-related fire at BP’s plastics subsidiary in Alvin.On Friday, Chemical board chairwoman Carolyn W. Merritt reiterated the importance of making changes at the plant.”BP’s report is a sober look in the mirror that reveals an ineffective safety culture at the Texas City refinery,” she said. “I urge the company to draw upon this report and enact any needed changes not just in Texas City but all BP facilities worldwide.”BP announced plans Friday to invest about $1 billion over the next five years to improve and maintain the site.The company has already earmarked $700 million to compensate victims and families and it paid a $21.3 million fine after resolving more than 300 separate violations alleged by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.At its full capacity, the Southeast Texas refinery processes 460,000 barrels of crude oil a day and 3 percent of the nation’s gasoline. But the plant has been shut down for repairs since Hurricane Rita hit the Gulf Coast in late September.Shares of BP fell $1.33, or 1.9 percent, to $67.09 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.—On the Net:BP: http://www.bp.com

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