If BP, plc had followed its own guidelines for the placement of trailers, 15 people might still be alive after the tragic explosion on March 23, 2005. Brent Coon & Associates is releasing a series of documents showing that one fatal decision and an arrogant lapse in engineering judgment were the last and most important acts in a catastrophic event that killed fifteen people.
What could be the most important documents uncovered by Brent Coon & Associates are now available as part of the November 9, 2006 plea agreement with Eva Rowe, and can now be viewed on this site. These haunting documents prove that BP gave little importance to internal policies and OSHA regulations.
In 1995, in order to comply with OSHA’s new requirement to address facility siting, Amoco created a workbook for the refineries to use to do their initial hazard analysis. This workbook allowed the trailers to be closer than any other building because the executives believed that the trailers would roll in response to a Vapor Cloud Explosion (VCE). In Texas City, the argument that trailers would roll was completely invalidated because the trailers were intentionally strapped down to prevent rolling in the event of a hurricane.
When the original audit of potential hazards to all buildings at Texas was performed, a college sophomore was put in charge of the project, while other refineries hired experienced engineering firms to do their initial analysis.
Even thought the BP Facility Siting Screening Workbook called for the placement of turnaround trailers to be no closer than 350 feet from a process unit, they placed the occupied the trailers within 150 feet of the process unit - without completing the required process hazard analysis.
The morning of March 23, 2005, BP’s supervisors met to discuss the process and potential risks involved with the scheduled restart of an Isomerization unit. In the main operations room, a supervisor at the end of an 18-hour shift began the procedure with only three out of 18 control panel safety dials working properly. No one thought of warning the contractors stationed at the trailers near the unit.
And on the afternoon of March 23, 2005, fifteen people, unwarned by BP plant operations of the plans to try a difficult and dangerous start-up, were about to become BP’s 24th through 38th victims of “Profits over People”.