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10 Years After BP Texas City Refinery Explosion: Safety Improvements Still Needed

In March 2005, several explosions occurred at the BP Texas City refinery during the restarting of a hydrocarbon isomerization unit. As a result of the explosions, 15 workers died and 180 workers suffered injuries. According to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, this was the worst industrial accident since 1990.

The workers who suffered injuries were located in or around work trailers located near an atmospheric vent stack. According to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, the explosions “occurred when a distillation tower flooded with hydrocarbons and was overpressurized, causing a geyser-like release from the vent stack.”

State and federal agencies conducted numerous investigations to determine the cause of the accident. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration conducted 17 inspections and issued hundreds of citations. As a result of OSHA’s efforts, OSHA entered into numerous agreements with BP to abate hazards and protect refinery workers. BP agreed to pay more than $21 million in penalties for safety and health violations in connection with the explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board also conducted its own investigation into the accident. In 2007, the CSB released its final report, which determined that “organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP Corporation caused the March 23, 2005, explosion at the BP Texas City refinery.” The CSB also reported that OSHA needed “to increase inspection and enforcement at U.S. oil refineries and chemical plants” and to ensure that companies adequately analyze the safety impact of mergers, reorganizations, downsizing, and budget cuts.

10 Years Later Safety Must Still Be Addressed

It has been more than 10 years since the explosion at the BP Texas City refinery, and the CSB still believes that continued safety improvements are needed across the industry in order to prevent similar accidents from occurring. CSB chairman Moure-Eraso believes “that current federal and state regulations do not focus enough on preventative measures or on continuously reducing process risks.”

CSB conducted investigations into refinery explosions in 2010 at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington and in 2012 at the fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California. According to CSB’s investigations, warning signs regarding a potential accident had been overlooked for years. The CSB noted, however, federal and state process safety management regulations do not specifically require the companies to take preventative measures that may have stopped the accidents from occurring.

The CSB has made process safety reform a key part of increasing safety. Chairman Moure-Eraso further stated, “it’s been 10 years since the terrible accident at the BP Texas City refinery. Industry and government alike should increase their efforts to prevent process related disasters. Workers, the public, and companies will benefit.”

Contact Zehl & Associates’ Undefeated Texas Plant and Refinery Accident Attorneys

If you have suffered an injury due to an accident in a plant or refinery, an experienced Texas plant and refinery accident attorney can help you understand your rights. Zehl & Associates have successfully represented over 100 workers and recovered over $250 million in damages. Our Texas plant and refinery accident attorneys want to make sure that you recover the compensation you deserve.

Contact Zehl & Associates’ Texas plant and refinery accident lawyers today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Call one of our lawyers at 1-888-603-3636 to find out how we can help you with your injuries.

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Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers – Houston
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(888) 603-3636
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