BP fined

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined BP over $87m for failure to correct potential hazards faced by employees. The fine is the largest in OSHA’s history. The prior largest total penalty, $21m, was issued in 2005, also to BP.

Safety violations at BP’s Texas City, Texas, refinery resulted in a massive explosion – with 15 deaths and 170 people injured – in March 2005. BP entered into an agreement with OSHA in September of that year, under which the company agreed to corrective actions to eliminate potential hazards similar to those that caused the tragedy.

The announcement, made on October 30, comes at the conclusion of a six-month inspection by OSHA, designed to evaluate the extent to which BP has complied with its obligations under the 2005 agreement and OSHA standards.

‘When BP signed the OSHA settlement from the March 2005 explosion, it agreed to take comprehensive action to protect employees. Instead of living up to that commitment, BP has allowed hundreds of potential hazards to continue unabated,’ said secretary of labor Hilda L. Solis.

‘Fifteen people lost their lives as a result of the 2005 tragedy, and 170 others were injured. An $87m fine won’t restore those lives, but we can’t let this happen again. The US Department of Labor will not tolerate the preventable exposure of workers to hazardous conditions.’

‘BP was given four years to correct the safety issues identified pursuant to the settlement agreement, yet OSHA has found hundreds of violations of the agreement and hundreds of new violations. BP still has a great deal of work to do to assure the safety and health of the employees who work at this refinery,’ said acting assistant secretary of labor for OSHA Jordan Barab.

The BP Texas City Refinery is the third largest refinery in the US with a refining capacity of 475,000 barrels of crude per day. It is located on a 1,200-acre facility in Texas City, southeast of Houston in Galveston County.