But if every plaintiff settled and no court action occurred, many internal BP documents on the refinery’s operation and BP decision making would never see the light of day. At the time of the explosion it was the third largest oil refinery in the U.S. …Eva would see strangers parked in a car near her home. obtained through mergers and acquisitions; “The ISOM raffinate section startup procedure lacked sufficient instructions for the Board Operator to safely and successfully start up the unit” (CSB, 2007, p.75). However, BP’s lawyers made it clear that should Eva’s case go to trial, the jury would be “entitled to know who Eva Rowe is.” Beyond the deposition and courtroom tactics, there were other more troubling concerns. Pat Nickerson, a veteran of the Texas City BP refinery for 28 years, was on site the day of the explosion driving his truck inside the refinery to an office trailer. BP was also the nation’s leader in refinery accidents, with 3,563 mishaps occurring between 1990 and 2003. She had been unable to look at them before, with Coon’s office holding them for her. During the day, she was constantly followed… A bodyguard was hired to be with Eva at all times… During her deposition, BP’s attorneys got personal, asking her about drinking and marijuana and cocaine use and an altercation at a gas station that ended with her being led away in handcuffs by the police. And some, you know, bones and stuff that were… protruding from his chin.” Rodriguez died in the ambulance. amzn_assoc_search_bar = "true"; On its Sunday night edition of October 29th, 2006, the newsmagazine aired its findings with correspondent Ed Bradley’s interviews of company and government officials, workers and family survivors, including Pat Nickerson and Eva Rowe quoted earlier above. “A guy named Ryan Rodriguez, and he was just kind of staring at me. Corporate safety culture, including the degree to which: Also contains significant commentary throughout as to what constitutes good practice in these areas – so I’d recommend this report as good value for those wanting to learn about human and organisational factors generally, not just the specifics of this incident. Eva Rowe’s brother, Jeremy, would also settle with BP. safety; experts in corporate culture, organizational behavior, and human factors; “Our goal is to provide fair compensation without the need for lawsuits or lengthy court proceedings,” he said. There were no clearly documented expectations for supervisors’ roles, including those stepping up to an acting supervisory role”, “In the face of increasing expectations and costly regulations, we are choosing to rely wherever possible on more people dependant and operational controls rather than preferentially opting for new hardware. They killed my parents to save money.”. BP by this time had made public statements that it would be making restitution to those families. It also enabled an acceptance of faulty equipment – for example, a malfunctioning control valve was reported to a supervisor, who subsequently signed startup documents stating that all control valves had been tested and were operational prior to startup, despite the issue not being addressed. In light of the findings concerning the March 23rd incident at BP's It took Eva a full year to view the autopsy photos of her parents given to her earlier by the county coroner. “BP Fined $20 Million for Pipeline Corrosion,” Anchorage Daily News, October 26, 2007. Workers in the refinery reported seeing the cloud of the vaporizing fuel shoot from the tall stack. At approximately 1:20 p.m. on March 23, 2005, a series of explosions occurred at the BP Texas City refinery during the restarting of a hydrocarbon isomerization unit. Map showing location of BP's Texas City, Texas refinery. By late June 2005, within a few months of the explosion, a number of families who had lost loved ones in the Texas City explosion settled with BP, some for amounts in the millions. But the flood of hydrocarbons prevented him from starting it. Steven Mufson, “BP Failed on Safety, Report Says; Baker Panel Finds That Oil Company Skimped on Spending,” Washington Post, Wednesday, January 17, 2007. An unconscious co-worker was also in that same pile above him. - Mechanical integrity programs; The incident was investigated by the US Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) who reported in March 2007. As part of their legal strategy, Brent Coon and associates sought to depose the company’s top man, CEO, Lord John Browne, arguing that he was likely uniquely inovled in BP budgeting and decision making on which plant investments were made or not made. In early 2013, BP completed the sale of the refinery to Marathon Petroleum Corporation for $2.5 billion. Any information provided is used at the reader’s own risk and responsibility. My purpose for including such stories at this website is simply to drive home the continuing and chronic nature of these occurrences through history, and hopefully contribute to public education about them so that improvements in law, regulation, and business practice will be made, yielding industries that are safe and clean. And it was in the temporary office trailer at the Texas City refinery that was blown apart March 23rd, 2005 where both Linda and James Rowe were killed. BP was fined $2.4 million by OSHA for worker safety violations at the company’s Oregon, Ohio oil refinery – workplace safety violations, in fact, that were similar to those that contributed to the Texas City explosion. Associated Press & NBC News, “15th Body Found After Texas Refinery Blast, NBC News.com,(with NBC news video), March 24, 2005. “I thought if I helped people I would get better. Appoint this person to be a member of the Board Ethics and Environmental Assurance Committee. In the end the total BP payout in the Rowe settlement – not counting Eva’s share – would come to $44 million. This strategy [will place] greater demands on work processes and staff to operate within the shrinking margin for error”, “the CSB concludes that fatigue of the operations personnel contributed to overfilling the tower”, “The Texas City site had an overly complex and changing organization which was not conducive to good communication and clear accountability”, “Simply targeting the mistakes of BP’s operators and supervisors misses the underlying and significant cultural, human factors, and organizational causes of the disaster that have a greater preventative impact”, Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), Non-Technical Skills (“Crew Resource Management”), Situation awareness: Making sense of the world, Measuring workload: There’s an App for that. Martin Anderson These intense pressure regions, or sub explosions, produced heavy structural damage locally and left a pattern of structural deformation away from the blast center in all directions.”. Accident Occured On: 03/23/2005 | Final Report Released On: 03/20/2007, Accident Type: Oil and Refining - Fire and Explosion. Lise Olsen, Jim Malewitz, Jolie McCullough and Ben Hasson, “Assembled Data Show How and Where Refinery Workers Continue to Die,” Houston Chronicle, March 22, 2015. refineries and its corporate safety culture. “This is no exception. Nov 9th, 2006: Eva Rowe and attorney Brent Coon talking with reporters after BP Texas City settlement. Meanwhile, the CBS-TV newsmagazine, 60 Minutes, spent three months investigating the explosion at Texas City. 7. “I looked down the road. Photo, Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle. Linda Rowe, who also worked at the refinery, had come to the trailer office that day to deliver a pair of forgotten glasses to her husband, James. Require knowledgeable supervisors or technically trained personnel to be present during especially hazardous operation phases such as unit startup. “Texas City Refinery Explosion,” Wikipedia .org. Article Citation: In the first standard, create performance indicators for process safety in the refinery and petrochemical industries. In Rowe’s case, she was assured that even if she won in court, there could be large financial consequences. operating procedures for processes with catastrophic potential; Daniel Schorn, CBS News “The Explosion At Texas City: 2005 Refinery Explosion In Texas Killed 15, Injured 170,” 60 Minutes, October 29, 2006. The explosions and fire occurred during start-up of an isomerization unit at the refinery. BP’s legal team, meanwhile, played hard ball during negotiations and depositions, using tactics aimed at intimidating Rowe and any others who might challenge the company in court. After the blast, Nickerson was still alive and he began digging through the wreckage looking for survivors. Later, at the suggestion of a union worker, she hired a lawyer named Brent Coon from Beaumont, Texas. Corporate safety oversight, including the safe management of refineries In the end, nearly seven million pages of internal BP documents would be published, much of which is available through a public website. March 2010. “…Once ignited, the flame rapidly spread through the flammable vapor cloud, compressing the gas ahead of it to create a blast pressure wave. She had been unable to look at them before, with Coon’s office holding them for her. : Case Histories of Process Plant Disasters and How They Could Have Been Avoided,” 230pp. Mark Warren, Brent Coon, “The Inside Story of BP’s Negligence on Oil Safety,” Esquire.com, June 28, 2010. “Although actions or errors by operations personnel at the BP Texas City site, as described in the preceding section, were immediate causes of the March 23 accident, numerous latent conditions and safety system deficiencies at the refinery influenced their actions and contributed to the accident”, “The broader aspects of this investigation revealed serious management safety system deficiencies that allowed the operators and supervisors to fail”, “Numerous underlying latent conditions collectively influenced the decisions and actions of the operations personnel at the AU2/ISOM/NDU complex. During the end of that broadcast, Ed Bradley had questioned Eva specifically about the BP settlement process: Bradley: A lot of people who suffered terrible losses that day have already settled with B.P. In some cases, procedures were not available at all, for example, there were no procedures for the calibration, inspection, testing, maintenance, or repair of the five instruments the CSB considered to be contributory causes in the incident. At the suggestion of Coon, a bodyguard was hired to be with her at all times. That TV broadcast, beyond being a searing indictment of BP’s management failures at the Texas City refinery, was also a nightmare for the BP legal team trying to prevent Eva Rowe from going to trial.