BP: Personnel errors led to Texas oil blast

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The Independent Online

BP admitted yesterday mistakes made by its workers caused the blast at its Texan oil refinery in March, which killed 15 and injured more than 170, and said it would pay compensation to victims' families.

BP admitted yesterday mistakes made by its workers caused the blast at its Texan oil refinery in March, which killed 15 and injured more than 170, and said it would pay compensation to victims' families.

Britain's largest oil company has sacked the supervisors and workers responsible for the fatal errors, and issued warnings to others involved, it said in a formal report on why the explosion occurred.

Ross Pillari, the president of BP Products North Amer- ica, said: "We regret that our mistakes have caused so much suffering. We apologise to those who were harmed and to the Texas City community. We can assure that those who were injured and the families of those who died receive financial support and compensation. Our goal is to provide fair compensation without the need for lawsuits or lengthy court proceedings."

Several victims' families have started legal proceedings against BP. The company said it would contact their lawyers immediately to try to reach financial settlements with them.

The blast, which shot flames high into the sky and showered ash and chunks of charred metal around the area, happened because employees overfilled and then overheated a tower involved in a process which increases octane levels in unleaded gasoline.

So many people were killed and injured in the accident because managers were slow to evacuate the area when the tower started to overheat, and because temporary workers were staying in trailers near the blown-out stack.

BP said it would implement safety improvements pinpointed by investigators, including locating temporary workers further away from potentially dangerous operations.

The Texas City plant is BP's largest refinery with a rated capacity of 460,000 barrels a day and an ability to produce 11 million gallons of gasoline a day.

Lord Browne of Madingley, the chief executive, who flew to Texas immediately after the blast, said it was the "worst tragedy I've known during my 38 years with the company".

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