CSB Investigation of BP Texas City Refinery Disaster Continues
Washington, DC – In preliminary findings released, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) stated that internal BP documents prepared between 2002 and 2005 revealed knowledge of significant safety problems at the Texas City refinery and at 34 other BP business units around the world — months or years prior to the March 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers, injured 180 others, and was the worst U.S. industrial accident in more than a decade.
CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt said, “The CSB’s investigation shows that BP’s global management was aware of problems with maintenance, spending, and infrastructure well before March 2005. BP did respond with a variety of measures aimed at improving safety. However, the focus of many of these initiatives was on improving procedural compliance and reducing occupational injury rates, while catastrophic safety risks remained. Unsafe and antiquated equipment designs were left in place, and unacceptable deficiencies in preventative maintenance were tolerated.”
Ms. Merritt pointed to earlier CSB findings that the equipment directly involved in the flammable release on March 23 was of an obsolete design already phased out in most refineries and chemical plants, and that key pieces of instrumentation were either known to be not working or known to be unreliable by unit supervisors.
The CSB has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday, October 31, in Houston, Texas, where additional new findings and safety recommendations will be presented.
Due to the complexity of the investigation, Chairman Merritt said that a final CSB report would not likely be issued before March 2007, but it was important for the public and the rest of the industry to remain informed on what the investigation has found.