October 27, 2007 | Mark Paradies

BP Agrees to Plead Guilty to Felony for Texas City Refinery Explosion – US Attorney Says Supervisors, Managers, and Operators May Still Be Charged

In an amazing settlement and statement, BP spent $50 million to end the criminal investigation into the corporation’s role in the Texas City Refinery Explosion by agreeing to plead guilty to one felony count under the Clean Air Act. The money will go to the US Treasury. I guess that we now know the price for ending a government investigation into a corporation’s role in the death of 15 people. A little over 3 million per life.

However, this settlement left junior employees (operators, supervisors, and middle managers) out in the cold. The Houston Chronicle says that U.S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle of Houston said:

“…different individuals were aware of different risks and either failed to convey concerns to others or failed to fix substandard equipment.”

“Supervisors, management people, operators were aware of things that were going on, and had they paid attention to their requirements under the Clean Air Act, had they repaired safety systems in their own plant that were defective or not operating at all, this horrific tragedy could have been prevented.”

This statement by the US Attorney seems to focus blame at those at the pointy end of the stick with the least resources to defend their actions.

Will the US government really prosecute operators, supervisors, and plant management? My guess is that those at the pointy end of the stick don’t have $50 million to settle their charges … so only time will tell.

To read the Houston Chronicle story, click here.

To see the video of the US Attorney’s statement, click below:

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