Congressman George Miller, chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, will hold on hearing on March 22 on the explosion at the BP refinery in Texas City, TX which killed 15 workers and injured 180 others. “The BP-Texas City Disaster and Worker Safety” hearing will feature testimony from:
- Eva Rowe, 22, who lost both of her parents in the disaster
- Carolyn W. Merrit, chair of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board
- Kim Nibarger, safety specialists, United Steelworkers
- Admiral Frank Bowman, member, BP Refineries Independent Review Panel
Two days before the hearing, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board will conduct a public meeting in Texas City. The March 20 event will allow the CSB investigative team to present the report publicly, receive questions from the Board members, and allow the assembled public to comment on the report. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Board will vote to approve (or not) the report and the safety recommendations contained therein.
The Dept of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted an accident investigation at the BP site and issued citations in September 2005. As part of a settlement agreement with OSHA, BP agreed to pay $21 million; to review the operations of their Isomerization Unit and notify OSHA when they decide to operate it; to hire experts in process safety management systems to conduct an audit of the facility’s operations; to hire experts to assess communication practices between personnel and management; and to notify OSHA (for the next three years) of any workplace injury or incident requiring an individual to lose one or more workdays.
It doesn’t appear that the Committee has asked OSHA to testify at the hearing to report on BP’s compliance with the settlement agreement.