Safety Board: Independent Panel Should Probe BP's Safety Culture

The safety board investigating a series of recent incidents at BP Refineries in the Houston-area now asys the company should quickly form an independent panel to probe the safety culture at its five North American plants.

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The urgent recommendation from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board comes on the heals of four incidents in the past four months, three at the Texas City refinery and one at BP's refinery in Alvin. The board says the company should create an outside panel to look into the company's safety measures to determine if the recent incidents are part of a systemic problem.

The CSB's Carolyn Merritt says the panel should be similar to one used by NASA to investigate the Columbia tragedy in 2003, with outside experts who have no connection to either the CSB or BP. She says the message is clear that the company needs to quickly examine its safety culture.

BP's Ronnie Chappell says the company has accepted the recommendation and has already started the process of forming in independent panel to look at all of BP's refineries in North America. "This is a recommendation that we welcome. It is an approach that is consistent with how BP investigates incidents and it's also an approach that BP has used when, for example, undertaking the large-scale developments in sensitive areas," says Chappell.

He says the make-up of the panel will be consistant with the CSB's recommendations.

The safety review could take about a year and will be paid for by BP, although the CSB will monitor its progress.

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