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BP Cited for Worst OSHA Safety Violations Among U.S. Refiners
WASHINGTON - May 17 - Two refineries owned by oil
giant BP account for 97 percent of all flagrant violations found in the
refining industry by government safety inspectors over the past three
years, a Center for Public Integrity analysis shows. Most of
BP's citations were classified as "egregious willful" by the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration and reflect alleged
violations of a rule designed to prevent catastrophic events at
BP is battling a massive oil well spill in the Gulf of Mexico after an April 20 platform blast that killed 11 workers. But the firm has been under intense OSHA scrutiny since its refinery in Texas City, Texas, exploded in March 2005, killing 15 workers. While continuing its probe in Texas City, OSHA launched a nationwide refinery inspection program in June 2007 in response to a series of fires, explosions and chemical releases throughout the industry.
Refinery inspection data obtained by the Center under the Freedom of Information Act for OSHA's nationwide program and for the parallel Texas City inspection show that BP received a total of 862 citations between June 2007 and February 2010 for alleged violations at its refineries in Texas City and Toledo, Ohio.
Of those, 760 were classified as "egregious willful" and 69 were classified as "willful." Thirty of the BP citations were deemed "serious" and three were unclassified. Virtually all of the citations were for alleged violations of OSHA's process safety management standard, a sweeping rule governing everything from storage of flammable liquids to emergency shutdown systems. BP accounted for 829 of the 851 willful violations among all refiners cited by OSHA during the period analyzed by the Center.
Top OSHA officials told the Center in an interview that BP was cited for more egregious willful violations than other refiners because it failed to correct the types of problems that led to the 2005 Texas City accident even after OSHA pointed them out. Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said it was clear that BP "didn't go nearly far enough" to correct deficiencies after the 2005 blast.
"The only thing you can conclude is that BP has a serious, systemic safety problem in their company," Barab said.
BP officials did not respond to requests for comment about the OSHA data. BP's website said it was committed to improving safety companywide. "Creating a safe and healthy working environment is essential for our success. Since 1999, injury rates and spills have reduced by approximately 75 percent," the BP website says.
To view a list of BP's U.S. OSHA Refinery Violations, this interactive graphic can be embedded for the Web or click on the following link: http://www.publicintegrity.