Full Full 12 November BP America Refinery Explosion The 23rd of March, 2005 was a tragic day in the oil industry as a whole, but more specifically for BP, one of the industry’s giants. At the BP Products Texas refinery on that fateful day, 15 people perished in the explosion and at least 170 people had sustained injuries (Weirauch 25). In response to this tragedy, BP opened an internal review in order to find out what went wrong and what precautions could have prevented it. The main objective of the investigation was to discover the cause of the explosion.
The secondary objective was to find ways to prevent it from occurring again in the future. The investigative report was released to the general public on 17 May, 2005 (“BP Accepts Responsibility” 1). From this report, the general consensus was that BP workers had made mistakes during the startup of the ISOM (Isomerization) process unit. “ISOM unit managers overfilled the Raffinate Splitter” (“BP Accepts Responsibility” 1). Further to this, the tower was overheated, which was the main cause of the explosion.
Further findings seemed to indicate that water or nitrogen was present in the tower, causing an unexpected increase in pressure. This forced hydrocarbon liquid and vapor to travel in the opposite direction (Weirauch 26). From this, an unknown source caused the massive explosion, resulting in the deaths of many BP employees. In response to the findings of the investigation, BP agreed to pay a $50.6 million fine for not preventing the explosion from occurring (“BP Agrees $51M Texas City Fine” 8). OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) decided to introduce the fine in 2009 because BP had not fixed the problems that caused the explosion in the first place.
The actual fine was $30 million greater than the amount paid, but BP compromised by agreeing to pay close to two-thirds of the total fine. After the explosion, BP announced that they would implement preventative measures to protect its workers at the Texas refinery. Immediately after the event, BP spent $1 billion to make the refinery safer. After further inspection, BP decided to increase this amount by another $500 million (“BP Agrees $51M Texas City Fine 8”).
BP originally promised that it would fix all of the refinery’s weaknesses by 2009. When OSHA came to inspect the facility in 2009, they found that many industry-accepted process safety standards had not been followed (“BP Agrees $51M Texas City Fine 8”). This was the reason why OSHA decided to fine BP a total of $80 million. BP has already paid part of this fine, but it contesting the rest of the fine in court. BP has now come to an agreement with OSHA in order to help prevent future accidents from occurring.
However, this is a little bit reactive because the event has already happened. If BP had been conforming to safety standards before the disaster, it may never have eventuated. Large organizations like BP need to realize that its reputation can be damaged from events like this. In order to prevent environmental catastrophes, OSHA needs to make regular checks of the Texas factory and assist BP wherever possible. The cost of this event has grown into billions of dollars, yet BP could have spent only a fraction of this amount in making all of its work processes safe.
Works Cited "BP Accepts Responsibility For Texas City Explosion. (Cover Story). " Oil Spill Intelligence Report 28.22 (2005): 1-2. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. "BP Agrees $51M Texas City Fine. " TCE: The Chemical Engineer 831 (2010): 8. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. Weirauch, Wendy. "Interim Report Outlines Causes Of Texas City Refinery Explosion. " Hydrocarbon Processing 84.7 (2005): 25-27. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.