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Not a Good Year for BP - Toxic Spill at BP Plant in Texas City

Photo of Brant Stogner

The entire world is still watching the unprecedented oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster is still mounting. Most of the blame for the disaster in the gulf is being placed on British Petroleum (BP). Meanwhile, in Texas City, BP's refinery released hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals, including the carcinogen Benzene. Rather than shutting down the refinery to make repairs, BP tried to divert the gases to have them burned off. This decision allowed at least 538,000 pounds of toxic chemicals to pour from the Texas City factory in April, May and June of this year.

BP did not bother to warn the contractors working at the plant or the neighbors in the community until two weeks after the release ended. This has infuriated the residents of Texas City and has prompted a $10 billion class-action lawsuit against BP, as well as a suit by the Texas Attorney General seeking fines for the oil monster. What is most disturbing is that BP intentionally withheld the information from the contractors and the Texas City community. To nobody's surprise, BP does not believe that it did anything wrong.

According to the Attorney General's office, "The state's investigation shows that BP's failure to properly maintain its equipment caused the malfunction and could have been prevented." Violations are nothing new at BP's Texas City plant, federal and state officials say. Indeed, we all remember the 2005 Texas City explosion that killed 15 people and injured more than 170. BP was fined $87 million by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for safety lapses that led to that 2005 explosion.

Sadly, it does not appear to matter how many fines are levied, how many people are injured, or how many people die - BP just doesn't get it, or BP just doesn't care. In the end, the only way to make BP shape up is to hit BP where it hurts and in the only place that matters to BP, its bank account. This is where the right to a trial by a jury comes in. In the end, we the citizens have to hold BP responsible and accountable for its actions; otherwise, this trend will simply continue.

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