Processing Magazine

Explosion May Have Caused BP Fatality

January 18, 2008
According to the Associated Press, a federal agency said recently that it plans to investigate the death of an employee at BP PLC''s Texas City, Texas, refinery, based on new information indicating a chemical explosion may have caused the incident.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board said in a press release that BP identified the incident as a potential explosion Thursday, leading it to deploy a team to the site.

Earlier reports had suggested that water pressure was responsible for the incident, which occurred in a filter system associated with an ultracracking unit.

The CSB played a critical role in scrutinizing the company for two years after a fatal explosion in March 2005.

The board cannot levy fines or pass regulations, but can make recommendations to other agencies and trade organizations that set safety guidelines.

The company is conducting its own investigation into Monday''s incident. Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed that it was investigating the incident, but could not comment on the ongoing investigation.

The huge refinery, which can process 437,000 barrels a day, is running reduced rates of about 300,000 barrels a day. The plant shut ahead of Hurricane Rita in September 2005, and has undergone a gradual restart since the spring of 2006, inspecting each unit prior to restart.