The practices of BP continue to catch up with them, in some measure, with the announcement today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Justice Department that BP Products North America Inc. has agreed to pay a $15 million penalty to resolve federal Clean Air Act violations at its Texas City, Texas petroleum refinery.
The penalty is the largest ever assessed for civil violations of the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention regulations ,and the largest civil penalty recovered for Clean Air Act violations at an individual facility. BP’s Texas City refinery is the third largest in the United States, with a production capacity of more than 460,000 barrels of oil per day.
With today’s settlement, the federal government will have recovered approximately $137 million in criminal, civil, and administrative fines related to process safety violations at the Texas City refinery. In addition, BP Products has performed approximately $1.4 billion in corrective actions and the company will spend an estimated additional $500 million, to improve safety at the refinery as required by settlements entered into with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the criminal Clean Air Act plea agreement following the fatal March 23, 2005 explosion.
“BP’s actions at the Texas City refinery have had terrible consequences for the people who work there and for those in nearby communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement, in conjunction with other actions already taken by EPA and other federal agencies at Texas City, demonstrates the agency’s continuing commitment to actively and vigorously working to hold BP accountable and to make them comply with our nation’s environmental protection laws wherever the company operates.”
“The Clean Air Act is intended to prevent not only accidents like the fatal March 2005 accident, it also penalizes accidents like these three that result from poor practices and cause air pollution,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement emphasizes the serious nature of the fires and releases of hazardous air pollutants that occurred at BP’s Texas City Refinery and puts industry on notice that the Department of Justice and the EPA will aggressively pursue those who fail to comply with the laws that protect our environment.”
The settlement, which is subject to court approval, addresses violations stemming from two fires that occurred at the refinery on March 30, 2004 and July 28, 2005, and a leak that occurred on August 10, 2005. During the three incidents, each of which resulted in the surrounding Texas City community to shelter-in-place, thousands of pounds of flammable and toxic air pollutants were released. The settlement also resolves allegations that BP failed to identify all regulated hazardous air pollutants used at the refinery in plans submitted to EPA.