A newly-released report from energy giant BP says management failures and safety gaps led to a march explosion at the company’s Texas City refinery. BP now says it will spend a billion dollars to make the plant safer.
The 190-page report is the culmination of a six-month internal investigation that found serious management and safety lapses at facility. The March blast took place as workers were restarting an isomorization unit, killing 15 contractors and injuring 170 others. The report also details a poor work environment and a lack of trust and motivation among employees. BP’s Ronnie Chappell says the company is doing what it can to change things at the Texas City refinery. “It’s a huge plant and covers almost two square miles. At any one time, there will be 3,000 or 4,000 people working at that location. Effecting change can sometimes take time. I think that March 23 accelerated greatly the pace of change at Texas city,” he says.
The report includes a change in company policy when it comes to temporary buildings. Several contractor trailers near the unit that exploded were destroyed, killing the workers inside. “We have eliminated the use of occupied portable buildings and trailers in process areas inside the facility and have developed a new company-wide standard for the use of portable temporary occupied buildings in all of our facilities worldwide,” says Chappell.
BP says it will spend $1 billion to improve and maintain the Texas City plant over the next five years, a plan that includes newer equipment and updated safety measures. U-S Chemical Safety Board Chairman Carolyn Merritt says the company’s report is a good first step toward fixing things at the facility. “Their recommendations are very, very detailed into very specific things that have been identified. They took a sober look at themselves and I think they were surprised at what they found and I think the report reflects their intention to correct the things that they have found,” she says.
The CSB is continuing its own investigation into the explosion with a final report expected sometime next year. Merritt says the entire industry should take notice of BP’s report. “While we want BP certainly to correct the things that they have found, we want other companies to look at what has been found here at BP now and in the future when our report comes out and look for those elements that set the platform for this tragedy,” she says.
The report says investigators found no evidence of any intentional actions or decisions that put others at risk at the BP plant.