Record US fine for BP’s refinery failures

BP Products North America has reached an $18m settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency for pollution from its Texas City refinery.

BP’s US branch has agreed to an $18m settlement for further violations of the US Clean Air Act at its Texas City refinery near Houston.

The civil penalty is the largest that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has imposed under the Act for a single installation.

The settlement, announced on 30 September, followed BP’s announcement it would make global changes to its safety regime.

The penalty stems from fires, in March 2004 and July 2005, and a leak of air pollutants this August. Each incident resulted in local residents being ordered to take shelter, as flammable and toxic chemicals were released.

BP Products North America has already paid $137m for a series of process safety violations at the refinery (ENDS Reports March 2007, March 2009 and November 2009). An explosion there killed 15 people and injured 170 in 2005 (ENDS Report, November 2006).

The cost of correcting all of the identified problems is just under $2bn. In comparison, BP has so far spent $11.2bn on responding to the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The EPA has added to BP’s problems by investigating a benzene release from the site this April.

A BP spokesman said the company would cooperate with the investigation and that it had complied with reporting requirements.

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