U.S. regulators have fined British oil giant BP PLC $3 million, citing safety problems at its Toledo, Ohio, refinery. This came some four months after the government imposed a record penalty on the company over its refinery in Texas. The fines show the tougher safety stance being taken by the Obama administration. BP is working to improve safety at its plants since a 2005 explosion at Texas City, Texas, that killed 15 people and injured 170. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the Toledo refinery, which is jointly owned by BP and Canada’s Husky Energy Inc., with 42 alleged willful violations and 20 alleged serious violations for exposing workers to safety hazards. The infractions stem from an OSHA investigation at Toledo that began last September. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in a statement:
OSHA has found that BP often ignored or severely delayed fixing known hazards in its refineries. There is no excuse for taking chances with people’s lives. BP must fix the hazards now.
OSHA began an inspection of the Toledo facility last September to see if BP had complied with a settlement agreement reached after a previous check in 2006. BP was found to be in compliance, but OSHA said it found other violations that weren’t covered by the original settlement. For example, it said workers were exposed to serious injury and death in the event of flammable and explosive materials being released. It cited BP for not providing adequate pressure relief for process units, among other issues. BP said it was disappointed that OSHA had chosen to characterize the majority of its audit findings as willful. Regulators define willful violations as those committed with indifference to employee safety and health, and with intentional disregard for the law.
Last October, OSHA hit BP with an $87 million fine, the largest in the agency’s history, for failing to correct safety problems identified after the 2005 explosion at Texas City. The agency cited 270 “notifications of failure to abate” and 439 new willful violations for failures to “follow industry-accepted controls on the pressure relief safety systems” – a citation that the recent action on Toledo echoed. BP says it has spent more than $1 billion to improve safety at Texas City since the 2005 blast and hopefully the company now has made safety a top priority at its facilities.
Source: Wall Street Journal
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