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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: BP Is Facing Safety Issues After Death

By GUY CHAZAN
January 18, 2008; Page A8

BP PLC said it still needs to make progress on safety issues, after a worker died in an accident Monday at the company’s Texas City refinery, scene of a blast nearly three years ago that claimed 15 lives.

“We’re not yet where we want to be,” said BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell in Houston. He said BP’s goal was still to be an industry leader in process-safety management, but “this is not a journey any company can make overnight.” William Gracia, an operations supervisor who had worked at the refinery for 30 years, died from head injuries suffered when the metal lid of a pressurized water-filtration vessel he was preparing for restart blew open.

The incident has refocused attention on BP’s safety record three months after the company agreed to pay $373 million in fines to settle charges stemming from the Texas City explosion, an oil spill in Alaska and allegations it manipulated the propane market.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is on the refinery’s site and investigating Monday’s incident. BP said it is cooperating with the probe.

The company is investing $1 billion to upgrade Texas City, the third-largest refinery in the U.S., and says it is working hard to enhance safety at all its operating facilities.

Critics of BP said Mr. Gracia’s death showed the company’s safety standards are still inadequate.

Write to Guy Chazan at [email protected]

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