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Blame Goes To Both BP, OSHA In Texas City Blast That Killed 15

The final report from the CSB released Tuesday cites multiple factors for the 2005 Texas City refinery blast that killed 15 and injured another 170.

The final report released Tuesday on the fatal 2005 explosion at BP’s Taxes City refinery placed blame with both BP and OSHA.

The March 2005 accident killed 15 people and injured another 170, making it the nation’s worst industrial accident since 1990.

The 335-page final report from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) concluded that "organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP Corporation” played a direct role in the accident.

The report also 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.

BP is to appoint an additional member of the board of directors with expertise in process safety, as well as have BP senior executives establish an improved incident reporting program and use new indicators to measure safety performance.

BP acquired the Texas City refinery when it merged with Amoco in 1999. The CSB report found that "cost-cutting in the 1990s by Amoco and then BP left the Texas City refinery vulnerable to a catastrophe."

"The combination of cost-cutting, production pressures, and failure to invest caused a progressive deterioration of safety at the refinery,” CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt said.

The study found that human fatigue also contributed to the blast. By March 23, operators had been working 12-hour shifts for 29 or more consecutive days. The report recommends that the American Petroleum Institute, a leading trade organization, and the United Steelworkers International Union (USW), the largest union representing refinery workers, work together to develop a new consensus standard for fatigue prevention in the oil and chemical industry.

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