Already in the cross-hairs of federal and congressional investigators -- as well as dozens of plaintiff's attorneys -- for its role in the Gulf oil rig explosion and the spreading oil spill, BP was recently hit with some more bad news.
The oil giant's Cherry Point refinery in Washington State, the largest one in the state, was slapped with 13 serious safety violations and $69,200 in fines by the Washington Division of Occupational Safety and Health last week. The giant refinery processes about 225,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
The probe, which began in 2007, focused on a section of the plant which refines low-grade oil into gasoline. One violation cited the fact that 38 process safety recommendations were not implemented, according to the citation.
According to BNA's Occupational Safety and Health Reporter:
The 12 violations cited under Washington's standard for process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals (WAC 296-67) included citations for allegedly not addressing certain recommendations made by the refinery's process hazard analysis; for not ensuring piping and instrument diagrams were complete and accurate; for failing to provide or update certain written operating procedures; for failing to document each test and inspection performed on process equipment; and for failing to establish a regular frequency for such inspections, among others.
BP is reviewing the citations and would not rule out contesting some of them.
"A 'timely manner' is obviously a fluid standard," refinery spokesman Bill Kidd told the Bureau of National Affairs. "Our general stand is look, we haven't just decided to fire off and contest all these things. We want to make sure we're continuously assessing our safety management procedures, and we want to work constructively with [the Division of Occupational Safety and Health] to resolve those concerns."
The latest incident is sure to raise more questions about whether the company has violated its probation on environmental charges stemming from the 2005 explosion at its Texas City refinery, which killed 15 people and injured about 170. Under a plea agreement, BP paid a $50 milion fine and agreed to three years of probation for violating federal clean air laws.
Brent Coon, a lawyer who represents victims in both the refinery explosion and the oil rig disaster, wrote to Judge Lee Rosenthal on May 6, asking that she rescind the plea deal due to a "continued pattern of mistakes".