• Associated Press, 7-12-12: BP agrees to pay $13M for Texas refinery penalties
• Galveston Daily News, 7-1-12: Records point to an internal debate at BP
• Galveston Daily News, 6-14-12: 50,000 sue BP over air emissions event
BP has sold the Texas City refinery where it was responsible for killing 15 workers and injuring 180 others in a March 23, 2005, explosion that was considered the worst industrial accident in recent history. But the October 2012 sale of the plant to Marathon Petroleum Corp. for $2.5 billion did not end BP’s troubles at the refinery, the third-largest in the United States.
BP is still dealing with litigation stemming from another alleged environmental crime – releasing more than a half ton of toxic air pollution over nearly six weeks in 2010. More than 50,000 residents near the refinery southeast of Houston have charged the company with causing health problems by releasing 530,000 pounds of harmful emissions from April 6 to May 16 that year. They are asking for billions of dollars in damages.
The trial is scheduled to begin in September 2013, with six plaintiffs trying to make a case that they were harmed by BP’s toxic emissions. “I am confident that we can do that,” the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Tony Buzbee, told the Galveston Daily News. The outcome of the “test trial” will determine whether other claims are settled or dismissed.
BP agreed in November 2011 to pay $50 million in a settlement with the state for the 2010 air-pollution violations and others in previous years.
Meanwhile, three months before it sold the Texas City refinery to Marathon, BP closed the final chapter on the disastrous 2005 accident by paying more than $13 million to the U.S. Department of Labor to settle charges that it violated safety violations at the massive plant. The company also agreed to correct all remaining problems at the refinery by the end of 2012.
From the book:
Air pollution from the Texas City refinery had, in fact, become a harsh fact of life for the densely populated coastal area between Houston and Galveston. For more than a decade, BP had been under pressure from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Texas regulators to reduce toxic emissions from the massive refinery, the third-largest in the United States. The company signed a consent agreement with the EPA in 2001 that required strict controls on benzene releases from the plant, but eight years later the EPA charged BP with failing to comply with that agreement. The company agreed on February 19, 2009, to spend another $161 million on emission controls, and it paid a $6 million fine. “BP failed to fulfill its obligations under the law, putting air quality and public health at risk,” said Catherine McCabe, then acting assistant administrator for enforcement at the EPA.