OSHA fines BP $92K for violations at Texas City refinery

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: workplace safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on July 23 issued one willful and four serious citations with penalties totaling $92,000 to BP Products North America for violations found at the BP Texas City refinery near Houston. The citations follow an inspection that is part of OSHA's monitoring of the refinery following a March 2005 explosion that killed 15 employees and injured 170.

OSHA on July 23 cited BP for four violations of 29 CFR 1910.119, Process Safety Management (PSM), and one of 29 CFR 1910.307, Hazardous (classified) Locations. OSHA has continued to inspect and to monitor abatement of citations issued to BP in September 2005 following the fatal explosion and fire at Texas City, as well as BP's compliance with an agreement signed at the time the 2005 citations were issued, under which BP agreed to address PSM systems and equipment throughout the refinery.

The citations include an alleged willful violation for the failure to ensure that the pressure relief system for a large pressure vessel called the "fractionator" conformed to industry codes. The hazard cited is that the inadequate pressure relief equipment could fail, leading to another catastrophic accident. In addition, four alleged serious violations relate to the following failures: to identify, to evaluate and to address the hazards in the fractionator processing unit; to ensure that piping and instrument diagrams were accurate; to ensure the installation of the correct type of pressure relief valves; and to ensure use of intrinsically safe (non-sparking) electrical equipment in locations where flammable liquids and gases are processed.

"The citations issued today are based on the identification of hazardous conditions similar to those that led to the tragic March 2005 explosion," said Dean McDaniel, OSHA's regional administrator in Dallas.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional disregard of the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act or plain indifference to employee safety or health. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, to request an informal conference with the Houston South area director or to contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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