August 12, 2010 OSHA Announces Settlement Agreement with BP Products at Texas City Refinery
Dear Congressional Staff,
Today, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a settlement agreement with BP Products North America Inc., resolving failure-to-abate notices stemming from the 2005 explosion at BP's Texas City, Texas refinery that killed 15 workers, and injured 170 others. Under the agreement, BP will immediately 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 BP's safety program including regular meetings with OSHA, frequent site inspections and the submission of quarterly reports for the agency's review.
"This agreement achieves our goal of protecting workers at the refinery and ensuring that critical safety upgrades are made as quickly as possible. The size of the penalty rightly reflects BP's disregard for workplace safety and shows that we will enforce the law so workers can return home safe at the end of their day."
- U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
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. Upon issuance of the citations, the parties entered into an agreement that required the company to identify and to correct deficiencies. 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 has now agreed to pay.
During that same 2009 investigation at Texas City, OSHA also identified 439 new willful violations and assessed over $30 million in penalties. Litigation before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission regarding those violations and penalties is ongoing and is not impacted by today's settlement. You may access materials related to today's agreement at http://www.osha.gov/dep/bp/bpagreement.html.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.