- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
“BP’s actions at the Texas City refinery have had terrible consequences for the people who work there and for those in nearby communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today's settlement, in conjunction with other actions already taken by EPA and other federal agencies at Texas City, demonstrates the agency's continuing commitment to actively and vigorously working to hold BP accountable and to make them comply with our nation’s environmental protection laws wherever the company operates.”
“The Clean Air Act is intended to prevent not only accidents like the fatal March 2005 accident, it also penalizes accidents like these three that result from poor practices and cause air pollution,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement emphasizes the serious nature of the fires and releases of hazardous air pollutants that occurred at BP’s Texas City Refinery and puts industry on notice that the Department of Justice and the EPA will aggressively pursue those who fail to comply with the laws that protect our environment.”
The settlement, which is subject to court approval, addresses violations stemming from two fires that occurred at the refinery on March 30, 2004 and July 28, 2005, and a leak that occurred on Aug. 10, 2005. During the three incidents, each of which resulted in the surrounding Texas City community to shelter-in-place, thousands of pounds of flammable and toxic air pollutants were released. The settlement also resolves allegations that BP failed to identify all regulated hazardous air pollutants used at the refinery in plans submitted to EPA.
The EPA identified the CAA violations addressed in the settlement during a series of inspections of the Texas City refinery initiated after a catastrophic explosion and fire on March 23, 2005 that killed 15 people and injured more than 170 others. In addition to the CAA General Duty Clause and risk management program violations resolved by this settlement, the agency also identified violations of other CAA requirements at the refinery relating to the control of benzene, ozone-depleting substances, and asbestos. Exposure to benzene can significantly harm human health and exposure to asbestos, a known human carcinogen, can cause two types of cancer: lung cancer and mesothelioma. These other violations were resolved in a February 2009 settlement that required BP to spend more than $161 million on pollution controls, enhanced maintenance and monitoring, and improved internal management practices at the refinery, as well as pay a $12 million civil penalty and perform a $6 million on a supplemental project to reduce air pollution in Texas City and the surrounding area.
With this settlement, the federal government will have recovered approximately $137 million in criminal, civil and administrative fines related to process safety violations at the Texas City refinery. In addition, BP Products has performed approximately $1.4 billion in corrective actions and the company will spend an estimated additional $500 million, to improve safety at the refinery as required by settlements entered into with the OSHA and the criminal CAA plea agreement following the fatal March 23, 2005 explosion. More information on the settlement is available here.