Tuesday, May 18, 2010

BP's Special Investigation Panels

The Obama ordered special investigation into the BP oil catastrophe is not the company's first. James A. Baker, III lead a Bush investigation into the Texas City refinery explosion, which killed 15 people. Bush's Chemical Safety Board, a federal agency, recommended BP conduct an independent investigation. They tapped James A. Baker, III, to chair the panel. Baker is a longtime close Bush associate and BP attorney via Baker Botts.

"The Report of the BP U.S. Refineries Independent Safety Review Panel" stated:

When systems and controls deteriorate, everything can come together in the worst possible way. Equipment malfunctions and controls fail. An explosion and fire occur. People lose their lives or suffer horrible injuries. Families and communities are devastated. (page i)

The CSB noted that the BP Texas City refinery had experienced two other fatal safety incidents in 2004, a major process-related hydrogen fire on July 28, 2005, and another serious incident on August 10, 2005. (page viii)

The January 2007 report wouldn't directly state management caused the deterioration in systems and controls. It cited a lack of emphasis on process safety.

In a press release issued on August 17, 2005, the company noted that the Texas City explosion was the worst tragedy in BP’s recent history and that it would “do everything possible to ensure nothing like it happens again.” (page viii)

BP has an aspirational goal and expectation of “no accidents, no harm to people, and no damage to the environment.” (page xiv)

BP’s process safety management system likely results in under reporting of incidents and near misses. (xiv)
Growing profit at all costs has its price. I can't wait to read what an Obama panel concludes.

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