Penalty stems from 2005 explosion at Texas City

BP agreed to pay a fine of $50.6m for the 2005 Texas City refinery blast that killed 15 workers and injured 170 others.

The fine relates to BP’s failure to improve safety measures following a regulatory investigation that unearthed hundreds of new safety violations. BP also agreed to take steps to protect workers at the refinery, agreeing to spend at least $500m on that.

The fine was paid to the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"This agreement achieves our goal of protecting workers at the refinery and ensuring that critical safety upgrades are made as quickly as possible," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The size of the penalty rightly reflects BP's disregard for workplace safety and shows that we will enforce the law so workers can return home safe at the end of their day."

Under the agreement, BP immediately will begin performing safety reviews of the refinery equipment. Many items needed immediate attention, according to the authorities, and the company has agreed to address these concerns quickly and to hire independent experts to monitor its efforts. BP's safety programme will be overseen by OSHA.

"Safer conditions at this refinery should result from this arrangement, which goes far beyond what can normally be achieved through abatement of problems identified in citations," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Make no mistake, OSHA will be watching to ensure that BP complies with the agreement and safeguards its workers."

In September 2005, OSHA cited BP for a then-record $21m as a result of the fatal explosion at its Texas City refinery in March of that year. Upon issuance of the citations, the parties entered into an agreement that required the company to identify and to correct deficiencies. In a follow-up investigation in 2009, OSHA found that although the company made many changes related to safety, it failed to live up to several extremely important terms of that agreement. As a result, OSHA cited BP for "failure to abate" violations with penalties totaling a record $50.6m that BP now has agreed to pay. *

During that same 2009 investigation at the Texas City refinery, OSHA also identified 439 new willful violations and assessed more than $30m in penalties. Litigation before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission regarding those violations and penalties is ongoing and is not impacted by today's settlement.