May 7, 2010

What do Massey Energy and BP have in common?

A history of criminal convictions for safety violations at their facilities. 

On October 25, 2007, BP pled guilty to a criminal violation of the Clean Water Act and paid a $20 million fine related to two separate oil spills that occurred in the North Slope in March and August of 2006, the result of a severely corroded pipeline and a safety valve failure. BP formally entered a guilty plea in federal court on November 29, 2007. US District Court Judge Ralph Beistline sentenced BP to three years probation and said oil spills were a "serious crime" that could have been prevented if BP had spent more time and funds investing in pipeline upgrades and a "little less emphasis on profit."


The NY Times reports that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the largest fine in its history on Friday, $87 million in penalties against the oil giant BP for failing to correct safety problems identified after a 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers at its Texas City, Tex. refinery.


The fine is more than four times the size of any previous OSHA sanction. Federal officials said the penalty was the result of BP's failure to comply in hundreds of instances with a 2005 agreement to fix safety hazards at the refinery, the nation's third-largest.


According to documents obtained by The New York Times, OSHA issued 271 notifications to BP for failing to correct hazards at the Texas City refinery over the four-year period since the explosion. As a result, OSHA, which is part of the Labor Department, is issuing fines of $56.7 million. In addition, OSHA also identified 439 "willful and egregious" violations of industry-accepted safety controls at the refinery. Those violations will lead to $30.7 million in additional fines.



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