March 23, 2005: Explosion kills 15 people and injures more than 170 in the worst accident in the nation's gas and chemical industry in nearly 15 years. This explosion was at the British Petroleum (BP) plant in Texas City, TX. As noted, this explosion happened 2 years ago this week.
The investigative arm of the Federal Government for this type of explosion, the U.S. Chemical Safety Investigation Board(CSB), released it’s report final report today on the Texas City explosion. Its 374 pages long, which should give you an idea of the detail involved in this report,or…the amount of bullshit they are laying on since it seems they might have been paid by the page, I must admit I haven’t slogged through the entire report. The man that headed this 11-member group? Why none other than James Baker! You remember Jimmy..he headed the Iraq Study Group, but I digress.
Thankfully, the CSB released something a lot shorter in their press release today. A couple of small blurbs from there:
In a 335-page final report released today, federal investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) conclude that "organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP Corporation" caused the March 23, 2005, explosion at the BP Texas City refinery, the worst industrial accident in the United States since 1990. The report calls on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to increase inspection and enforcement at U.S. oil refineries and chemical plants, and to require these corporations to evaluate the safety impact of mergers, reorganizations, downsizing, and budget cuts.—Please bear in mind that the Shrub has cut OSHA’S budget yearly and oversight abilities every chance he gets since he took office.
“The independent Baker panel, formed and funded by BP in response to an urgent CSB safety recommendation, issued its final report in January 2007. It found "material deficiencies" in the safety of BP's five U.S. refineries in Texas, California, Indiana, Ohio, and Washington. The 11-member panel also issued ten safety recommendations, including calling on BP's corporate board to closely monitor safety performance at its facilities. The Baker panel was not charged with determining the root causes of the March 2005 explosion.”-Notice my dear reader that they have the nads to call it an “independent” panel but in the same sentence says it was funded by BP. One can only hope that this panel was truly independent and not just a shill for the Oil Business and their best friend..George Bush.
CSB chairman Carolyn Merritt delivers the bottom line to us:
"The combination of cost-cutting, production pressures and failure to invest caused a progressive deterioration of safety at the refinery," – BP was making billions prior to the explosion but could not put a dime into rehabbing the plant. BP chose to put lives at risk, ultimately causing the deaths of 15 and injury to over 170 people and keep their money in their ‘pocket’.
Failure to invest in safety and working conditions could also be called willful homicide in my opinion. But we know that’s not going to happen..afterall, it’s a Big Oil Corporation and BushCo would never find a business culpable in killing their workers would they? It’s just the cost of doing business…no more, no less.
Beginning in 2002, BP commissioned a series of audits and studies that revealed serious safety problems at the Texas City refinery, including a lack of preventative maintenance and training, but the CSB found that senior executives ordered 25 percent cost cuts in 1999 and another 25 percent in 2004, the year before the blast.
British Petroleum was cutting costs and allowing the Texas refinery to slip into disrepair. And THEY KNEW IT. They, my dear reader, did it on purpose. Bear in mind that in 2005 BP had reported a 25% increase in annual profits. In 2004, their profit was a paltry $17.5 BILLION dollars. It should also be noted that BP was bitchslapped with a record $21.4 million fine after finding more than 300 willful violations resulting from the explosion, but even that fine is a drop in the profit bucket. You know what stands out to me?
It was cheaper to get fined than fix the problems prior to the blast, I mean really..look at their profit margin for the year prior to the blast my dear reader.
Now, BP has released their statement on the CSB report. As expected, they..ahem..disagree with substantial parts of the CSB report as witnessed by this little blurb:
Notwithstanding the Company’s strong disagreement with some of the content of the CSB report, particularly many of the findings and conclusions, BP will give full and careful consideration to CSB’s recommendations, in conjunction with the many activities already underway to improve process safety management. BP and its employees are ready, willing and able to achieve the goal of becoming an industry leader in process safety management. I am biting a hole in my lip to keep from screaming at this point at the obvious bullshittery in the last sentence.
Now, you might ask..as I did..why in the blue hell would BP allow this refinery to go to shit when they had some *cough*decent*cough* profits within the last 6 years and it’s the third largest plant of its kind in the U.S.?
Money..it’s all about the money for Big Oil.. As for workers lives..they can be replaced by the folks in Human Resources by placing a new ‘help wanted” ad in the newspapers and the local unemployment office.
As for OSHA having the funds to police all these huge industrial plants and enforce fines and work stoppage until they are fixed..once again..say it with me now people..
Money, its all about the money that BushCo keeps cutting from their budget. Oh, and having a pro-Oil “bidness” President doesn’t hurt either. The last line in the Houston Chronicle article I link to earlier is scary too:
"This report has a lot of implications beyond chemical processing," said Meshkati, human factors consultant to CSB investigators. Among the industries that could benefit are transportation and nuclear energy, he added.
Don’t get me started on the nuclear industry..I am warning you now.Crossposted at