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BP Faces Record Fine for ’05 Refinery Explosion

October 30, 2009, 10:08 am

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: October 30, 2009

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the largest fine in its history on Friday, $87 million in penalties against the oil giant BP for failing to correct safety problems identified after a 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers at its Texas City, Tex. refinery.

The fine is more than four times the size of any previous OSHA sanction.

Federal officials said the penalty was the result of BP’s failure to comply in hundreds of instances with a 2005 agreement to fix safety hazards at the refinery, the nation’s third-largest.

According to documents obtained by The New York Times, OSHA issued 271 notifications to BP for failing to correct hazards at the Texas City refinery over the four-year period since the explosion. As a result, OSHA, which is part of the Labor Department, is issuing fines of $56.7 million. In addition, OSHA also identified 439 “willful and egregious” violations of industry-accepted safety controls at the refinery. Those violations will lead to $30.7 million in additional fines.

Contacted Thursday night after federal officials disclosed the OSHA citations to The New York Times, BP said it was disappointed.

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