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BP pays $50m fine for deadly blast

Aug 12 2010 21:18

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Chicago - BP has agreed to pay a record $50.6m fine related to the deadly 2005 blast at its Texas City refinery and spend $500m on safety improvements, US officials said Thursday.

The fine relates to BP's repeated failure to meet safety standards both before and after the explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170 others.

BP has also been slapped with huge fines for the pollution released from the troubled facility.

Those fines pale in comparison to the billions the British energy giant is liable for in the wake of the massive oil spill unleashed in the Gulf of Mexico after a deadly explosion sank the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration initially fined BP a record $21m after it determined that BP failed to protect its workers ahead of the 2005 blast.

The penalty was increased to $50.6m in 2009 after inspections found that BP failed to correct significant safety deficiencies.

"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 Labour Hilda 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."

The settlement does not impact ongoing litigation over the $30m fine imposed for 439 new "willful violations" discovered in the 2009 inspection.

"It is perfectly within BP's means to make that facility safe," OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab said in a conference call.

The settlement "commits them to a schedule to address those issues and it provides OSHA with an unprecedented level of oversight to make sure they do what they're supposed to do," he added.

- Reuters

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