REMARKS BY SECRETARY HILDA L. SOLIS
TELEPHONE CONFERENCE CALL
OSHA ANNOUNCES BP AGREES TO RECORD PENALTY AND
MAJOR SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS AT TEXAS CITY, TEXAS REFINERY
Thank you all for joining me and OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab on this call.
Today, the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced that BP Products North America will pay a full penalty of $50.6 million stemming from the deadly 2005 explosion at its Texas City, Texas refinery which killed 15 and injured 170 others. That's every fine we imposed, 100-cents on the dollar.
The agreement resolves failure to abate citations issued after last year's follow-up investigation at the plant.
In addition to paying the record fine, we are pleased that BP has also agreed to take immediate steps to protect those now working at the refinery, and will allocate some $500 million to that effort.
We feel this agreement achieves our goals of protecting the workers at the refinery and ensures that critical safety upgrades can be made as quickly as possible.
The size of the penalty rightly reflects BP's disregard for workplace safety.
However, more importantly, we hope it sends a message to all employers that we will enforce the law so that workers can return home safe at the end of their day.
It is very important to note that this agreement achieves far more than what is normally achieved when companies come into compliance and fix workplace hazards.
Under this historic agreement, BP will immediately begin performing safety reviews of the refinery equipment according to set schedules and make permanent corrections.
The agreement also identifies many items in need of immediate attention, and the company has agreed to address those concerns quickly and to hire independent experts to monitor its efforts.
Additionally, this agreement provides an unprecedented level of oversight of BP's safety program including regular meetings with OSHA, frequent site inspections, and the submission of quarterly reports for the OSHA's review.
And finally, in a step toward workplace safety corporate-wide, BP has agreed to establish a liaison between its North American and London boards of directors and OSHA which will allow the agency to raise compliance problems at the highest level.
This agreement means that we did not have to spend resources to litigate which could have taken several years; even though we had a strong case, you never know how you'll fare in litigation. We know BP could have fought this vigorously, and this agreement means we saved the Department of Labor legal resources that can be used to protect workers elsewhere.
However, make no mistake about it, we will be watching to make sure BP complies with the agreement and safeguards its workers.
No one should have to sacrifice their life for their job.
Let me be clear...everyone at the U.S. Department of Labor - and especially OSHA - is working diligently to ensure that tragedies like the 2005 explosion in Texas City never happens again.