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BP Settling Violations After 2005 Texas Refinery Explosion

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Seven years after a deadly explosion at a refinery in Texas City, Texas, the oil company BP Plc has settled most of the safety violations uncovered in a follow-up inspection after the explosion.

Earlier this month, BP agreed to a $13 million settlement with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The settlement clears 409 safety citations found in a 2009 inspection at the plant, and around 30 violations are still being discussed, according to OSHA officials.

Federal law requires employers to provide safe working environments for employees, including people who work in dangerous environments such as oil refineries. In 2005, an explosion at the Texas City refinery killed 15 workers and injured 170 people, triggering the OSHA investigation and follow-up inspections.

In 2009, OSHA said it would seek $87.4 million in fines from BP for violations at the refinery. BP agreed to a $50.6 million settlement for the violations in 2010. But additional safety violations were uncovered during OSHA's subsequent visits to the refinery.

Most remaining violations were settled with the deal this month. U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis told media organizations that the settlement would resolve hundreds of serious hazards at the refinery, making the refinery a safer place to work.

In addition to the multimillion dollar settlements with OSHA, BP spent more than $1 billion from 2005 to 2009 to improve safety at the plant. It agreed to spend another $500 million in the 2010 settlement with OSHA.

The refinery, located 40 miles southeast of Houston, is the sixth largest in the United States. The OSHA investigation had been a roadblock in BP's plan to sell the company.

Source: Insurance Journal, "BP pays $13M to settle Texas refinery safety probe," 7/12/12.

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