Monday, July 12, 2010


Back in 2005, when the BP refinery in Texas City blew up and killed 15 workers, we blogged our outrage about the safety deficiencies at the plant. 
Today, the New York Times took a look at BP's history in a story headlined, 

In BP’s Record, a History of Boldness and Costly Blunders

The Texas City explosion was beginning of the end for John Browne, the head of BP who received a knighthood and membership in the House of Lords after he took the company to new heights amid a radical program of company cost-cutting, the newspaper reports.

Writes The Times: 
"....Mr. Browne’s fall from grace really began on March 23, 2005, when 15 people died and more than 170 were injured in America’s worst industrial accident in a generation: a huge fire and explosion at Texas City.
A Troubled Workplace
"Acquired by BP in the Amoco purchase, the Texas City plant was America’s second-largest refinery, turning 460,000 barrels of crude oil a day into gasoline. But the facility, built in 1934, was poorly maintained and long starved of capital investment.
" 'We have never seen a site where the notion ‘I could die today’ was so real,'" the Telos Group, a consulting firm hired to examine conditions at the plant, said in a report two months before the accident.

"The explosion occurred when a 170-foot tower was being filled with liquid hydrocarbons. Because of poor communication among several workers who had been on 12-hour shifts for more than a month straight, no one noticed that the tower was filled too high.
"A 20-foot geyser of unstable chemicals shot into the sky, and the vapor ignited when a contractor, trying to get away, repeatedly tried to start the engine on his stalling pickup truck.
"The subsequent investigations were scathing. The explosion was “caused by organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of BP,” the United States Chemical Safety Board concluded in one report.
"The government ultimately found more than 300 safety violations, and BP agreed to pay a then record $21 million in fines."
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After that, of course, Tony Hayward took the reins of BP, and we think you know what happened next.

This sort of stuff (the Texas City explosion, the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill) is just the cost of maintaining a "healthy business climate" in the eyes of many of our elected office holders in Texas, but we ain't buying it and neither should you. 

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