Members of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board are in Texas City this afternoon, beginning an investigation into the latest explosion and fire at the BP refinery nthere. The incident comes as the company recovers from a March explosiont that killed 15 workers.
The Thursday explosion and fire took place in what’s known as an RHU unit about a mile away from the scene of the March explosion at BP’s 1200-acre plant. The company was able to account for all its employees and nobody was injured, but BP’s Hugh Depland says the latest incident is troubling. “It causes us to step back and to want to know what caused this and also to recommitt to fixing that problem and to trying to work a little bit harder to find ways to not have similar problems crop up,” he says.
BP has started its own investigation and has shut down the affected unit and two other similar units until the company can figure out what caused the explosion and fire.
Two members of the Chemical Safety Board already investigating the March 23rd explosion will open a new investigation into the latest incident. CSB chair and CEO Carolyn Merritt says the two investigations will share information to see if the causes are related. “These are what are called in industry vernacular as near misses. Near misses are extremely important events and if companies pay attention to them, they track down what happened here and how to prevent this from happening again,” says Merritt.
Shet says officials want to know if BP’s safety culture has contributed to both incidents this year.
BP officials says they have no idea what caused the latest fire and are just now gathering details about the incident. The rest of the refinery will continue to operate normally as the investigations continue.