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Brent Coon – Statement on March 8th OSHA Fine Against BP

March 8, 2010, 4:25 pm

Regrettably, there is nothing new in the comments by Secretary of Labor Solis today regarding fines against BP for violations observed at their Toledo refinery. “BP ignores and delays fixing problems at their refineries”, OHSA states. That is not news. BP has ALWAYS ignored known hazards at their facilities and put their workers and the communities they operate in at undue risk. Texas City alone averaged a workplace fatality almost every year they operated before the tragedy of March 2005 and they continue to have fatalities almost every single year since then. One worker died last year in an improper LOTO process at BPTXC which Toledo was cited for this time. Occasionally our overwhelmed and under-budgeted agencies like OSHA and EPA write them a handful of citations, which are usually protested and reduced by their teams of attorneys, and chalked up to a minor cost of doing business. These fines are pretty much the same as a speeding ticket to a multinational corporation like BP with their billions and billions of dollars of annual profits.

Until our regulatory agencies start throwing the decision-makers in jail to think about it for a while things will never change. When management is paid bonuses to keep the spending down on repairs and maintenance, there is a built in disincentive to make the facility truly safe for operation. When the decision makers cut the maintenance budgets with impunity from corporate offices in other states or even other countries, they are so far removed from the reality of what is going on that they scarcely have a clue, appreciation or care for the impact of the cuts. If we ran our nuclear power plants like we run our refineries they would all be another Chernobyl. Fortunately, at least our power plants are under much stricter regulatory scrutiny, which is reflected in the safety record of that industry vs refineries.

If a drunk runs over someone, they go to jail. Why doesn’t a single officer of BP have to be subjected to any criminal sentencing when making knowing decisions that put lives unnecessarily at risk?


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