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A Scathing Letter to Gov Rick Perry

May 6, 2010, 1:04 pm

BP’s Ungodly Safety Record

Texas Watch—May 6th, 2010

Indeed, BP is being scrutinized by safety regulators because the company continues to lead the nation in refinery deaths.  The company also faces additional penalties for “willfully” failing to implement safety measures at the Texas City plant following the disaster.

In an effort to help him better understand the truth about BP’s record and the need for strong workplace safety reforms, Texas Watch sent him a letter with a sampling of the reams of news articles that have been written in recent years about BP’s safety lapses.

May 6, 2010

The Honorable Rick Perry
Governor of Texas
Post Office Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711

Dear Governor Perry:

I noticed your comment in The Dallas Morning News regarding BP’s safety record in an article about the ungodly catastrophe that is currently unfolding in the Gulf Mexico.  You said that BP has “historically had a very good safety record from my perspective.”

At Texas Watch, we have worked closely with many of the families of those killed or injured at BP’s Texas City refinery in 2005 to support legislation designed to improve the safety of workers in our state.  On their behalf, I wanted to share a sampling of the reams of news reports written in recent years about BP’s long history of safety violations:

Largest Workplace Safety Fine in History

  • “BP [paid] an $87 million fine in relation to an explosion at the Texas City refinery. … The fine [was] more than four times any previous penalty imposed by OSHA. … OSHA has issued 271 notifications to BP in the four years since the explosion.” (Bloomberg News, October 30, 2009)
  • “BP [paid] a $50 million fine to resolve criminal charges arising from the 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery.” (Houston Chronicle, March 12, 2009)

A History of Safety Violations

  • “The explosion … at the BP oil refinery in Texas City and another in March 2004 are among a long history of incendiary incidents, some deadly, that have cost the facility’s owners millions of dollars in fines and lawsuits.” (Houston Chronicle, March 24, 2005)
  • “[OSHA’s Houston Director Charles Williams] chided the company for allowing hazardous conditions to develop at its facilities.  ‘OSHA will not tolerate this disregard for worker protection,’ he said.” (Houston Chronicle, March 24, 2005)
  • “At least 41 people have died at the plant in Texas City … since the mid-1970s” (AP, February 25, 2008)
  • “The [U.S. Chemical Safety Board]’s final report cited ‘organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of BP’ and said cost-cutting left the plant vulnerable to catastrophe.” (AP, February 25, 2008)

Ongoing Defiance of Safety Standards

  • “As we’ve seen from my department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s recent enforcement actions, BP still has a long way to go to ensure the safety of its employees and those of the contractors who work in its refineries.” (OSHA Press Release, March 23, 2010)
  • “Nearly three years after a massive explosion killed 15 people at BP’s Texas City refinery, the oil giant continues to have more fatal accidents at U.S. refineries than any other major energy company.” (AP, February 25, 2008)
  • “Two BP refineries … account for 20 of the 29 deaths at U.S. refineries from 2005 to 2008.” (Houston Chronicle, March 10, 2008)
  • “BP’s five U.S. refineries, deemed employers with repeated and persistent violations of federal safety rules, remain under OSHA’s stepped-up ‘Enhanced Enforcement Program.’ … for companies found to have willful violations of workplace safety laws.” (Houston Chronicle, March 10, 2008)
  • “The oil conglomerate is also facing serious charges from OSHA that is ‘willfully’ failed to implement safety measures at its Texas City refinery following an explosion that killed 15 employees and injured 170 others five years ago.” (Truthout.org, May 4, 2010)

As you can see, not only has BP historically failed to protect workers at its facilities from unsafe conditions, but it continues to be admonished by federal safety regulators for the company’s abysmal safety record to this day.

We encourage you to join others who feel strongly that BP and others who caused this man-made tragedy to be held fully accountable for their negligence.  As Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) said this week regarding responsibility for the oil spill: “If you’ve suffered a damage, they [BP] are the responsible party.”

If Texas Watch can provide any additional information to encourage your support for strong workplace safety reforms in our state, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

N. Alex Winslow
Executive Director

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