Safety and OSHA News

BP agrees to pay $13M in OSHA fines

Oil giant BP says it will pay $13 million in fines to settle an OSHA case. It’s not about Deepwater Horizon. The origin of this case goes back more than seven years.

The settlement involves infractions found at BP’s Texas City, TX, refinery where 15 employees died in an explosion in March 2005.

In September 2005, OSHA cited BP for a then-record $21 million because of the Texas City explosion. BP entered an agreement with OSHA that required the company to identify and correct safety deficiencies.

In a 2009 follow-up investigation, OSHA found BP failed to correct a number of items related to process safety management (PSM) at Texas City. It issued $87 million in fines to BP (a new record) for failure-to-abate certain hazards and for 439 willful violations of the PSM standard. The willful violations alone carried total proposed penalties of $30.7 million.

In 2010, BP settled the failure-to-abate fines and agreed to pay $50.6 million.

Now the oil company has settled 409 of the 439 willful violations for $13,027,000. That’s a 58% reduction from the original amount.

As part of the latest settlement, all violations covered in the agreement have been corrected or will be by Dec. 31, 2012, using procedures agreed upon in the 2010 settlement.

Under the 2010 settlement, independent third-party experts provide oversight of BP processes and quarterly progress reports.

The 30 unresolved citations have been regrouped into 22 violations and remain under contest. They will be litigated or settled in the future.

OSHA withdrew 110 citations because BP provided additional documentation after the citations were issued, showing several pieces of equipment weren’t covered by the PSM standard, were out of service at the time of the inspection or met what are known as Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEP) standards.

RAGAGEP is a safety concept set forth in OSHA’s PSM standard.

The 22 remaining violations address BP’s failure to protect certain pressure relief valves according to RAGAGEP.

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