BP to Pay Record $15 Million Fine for Violations at Texas City Refinery

A BP Plc unit will pay $15 million, the largest-ever Clean Air Act penalty on a single facility, to resolve claims stemming from two fires and a leak at a Texas refinery that killed 15 people, the Justice Department said.

Residents near the refinery in Texas City, Texas, were ordered to take shelter as a result of the incidents at the BP Products North America Inc. facility in 2004 and 2005, the government said today in a statement. The accidents released thousands of pounds of flammable and toxic pollutants, it said.

The settlement resolves allegations that London-based BP failed to identify all regulated hazardous air pollutants used at the refinery in plans submitted to environmental agencies, according to the statement. The penalty is the largest ever assessed for civil violations of chemical-accident rules under the Clean Air Act, the Justice Department said.

“BP’s actions at the Texas City refinery have had terrible consequences for the people who work there and for those in nearby communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

The Clean Air Act violations were revealed by a series of inspections of the refinery following a separate March 2005 explosion that killed 15 people and injured more than 170. The EPA had identified other violations settled in a February 1990 accord where the company agreed to pay a $12 million penalty and spend more than $161 million on pollution controls and improved management.

Residents of Texas City, located near Galveston, were ordered to stay indoors during the three incidents, as thousands of pounds of flammable and toxic air pollutants were released.

The accord is subject to a federal judge’s approval.

Daren Beaudo, a BP spokesman, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net; William McQuillen in Washington at bmcquillen@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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