The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced on August 11 that BP Products North America Inc. will pay a full penalty of $50.6 million stemming from the 2005 explosion at its Texas City, Texas, refinery that killed 15 workers and injured 170 others.
In addition to paying the record fine, BP has agreed to take immediate steps to protect those now working at the refinery, allocating a minimum of $500 million to that effort.
"This agreement achieves our goal of protecting workers at the refinery and ensuring that critical safety upgrades are made as quickly as possible," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The size of the penalty rightly reflects BPs disregard for workplace safety and shows that we will enforce the law so workers can return home safe at the end of their day."
Under the agreement, BP immediately will begin performing safety reviews of the refinery equipment according to set schedules and make permanent corrections. The agreement also identifies many items in need of immediate attention; the company has agreed to address those concerns quickly and to hire independent experts to monitor its efforts. Additionally, the agreement provides an unprecedented level of oversight of BPs safety program including regular meetings with OSHA, frequent site inspections and the submission of quarterly reports for the agencys review.
Finally, in a step toward workplace safety corporate-wide, BP agrees to establish a liaison between its North American and London boards of directors and OSHA, which will allow the agency to raise compliance problems at the highest level, OSHA said.
In September 2005, OSHA cited BP for a then-record $21 million as a result of the fatal explosion at its Texas City refinery in March of that year. In a follow-up investigation in 2009, OSHA found that although the company made many changes related to safety, it failed to live up to several extremely important terms of that agreement. As a result, OSHA cited BP for failure to abate violations with penalties totaling a record $50.6 million that BP now has agreed to pay.
During that same 2009 investigation at the Texas City refinery, OSHA also identified 439 new willful violations and assessed more than $30 million in penalties.