BP is facing a federal investigation into potential criminal environmental and safety violations at their Texas refinery, where a 2005 explosion killed 15 workers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has joined a federal investigation that was started in October by an U.S. attorney in Houston. The EPA, five Washington-based representatives of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigations went to Texas to meet with attorneys for workers that were injured in the blast.
“They were looking at anything and everything we had,” said attorney Joseph Gourrier, whose firm represents 150 injured workers suing BP. “They are looking for things that can be used to bring criminal charges against the upper management of BP, both at the refinery site and further up the company.”
The multiagency investigation represents an expansion of the government’s probe into London-based BP, Europe’s second-largest oil company. The Texas City explosion, one of the worst industrial accidents in recent U.S. history, spurred more than 1,700 lawsuits, a record $21 million fine by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and a finding by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board that BP endangered workers by cutting costs.
BP has settled over 1,200 claims, many including death suits. BP has acknowledged safety shortcomings at the plant.
The March 23, 2005 blast happened after workers started the refinery’s octane-boosting unit and excess gas spilled into the vent system. The gas ignited setting off an explosion that was felt five miles away. Fifteen workers were killed and hundreds were injured at the refinery.
Continue Reading about the oil field accident and blast in 2005.