BP's Browne may face Texas deaths probe

US safety watchdog carrying out 'detailed and copious investigation' into explosion last year

Lord Browne, the chief executive of BP, is facing a possible grilling by the US federal safety watchdog over last year's explosion at the oil giant's Texas refinery, which killed 15 people.

Don Holmstrom, the lead investigator at the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), told The Independent on Sunday that it was "possible" Lord Browne would be interviewed. He said the CSB would decide in the next few weeks.

A spokesman for the CSB admitted that "it would not be typical" if Lord Browne was called to give evidence. "But this was not a typical accident," he added. "This was the worst workplace accident for 15 years. We are doing the most detailed and copious investigation."

BP's environmental and safety record has been tarnished by a string of recent incidents and ongoing investigations. Last week it emerged that the company had received a subpoena from a federal grand jury relating to its oil spill in Alaska in March. Should the grand jury decide to indict BP, it could result in fines and even prison sentences for some of its officials.

The CSB does not have the power to fine or prosecute companies. It will publish its investigation into the Texas accident, probably in November. Its remit is to identify where a company has breached safety practices and to recommend new guidelines where relevant to prevent future accidents.

Mr Holmstrom said the team from the CSB had already interviewed the head of BP's global refining division. "It's possible [that we will interview Lord Browne]," he added. "We have not made a decision. It depends on factors which may come from additional interviews. We want to know what improvements were made, what was done and not done."

The accident happened in March last year when a gas drum exploded and ripped into contractors' trailers nearby, killing 15 people and injuring 170. In September, BP was fined $21m (£11m) by US regulators.

In an initial report, the CSB said: "Many of the CSB team's findings are indicative of management culture issues at BP."

A spokesman for BP stated that "BP has fully co-operated with the CSB. We will continue to give serious consideration to future requests."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor