The petrol giant BP has agreed to pay to the state of Texas $50 million for air pollution violations at a refinery on the Gulf Coast where a 2005 explosion killed 15 workers.
The settlement between BP Products North America and Texas resolves 72 emissions violations between 2005 and now, Attorney General Greg Abbott said at a news conference in Houston. The violations include some which contributed to the massive explosion six years ago at the Texas City refinery.
The law settlement’s announcement comes while BP PLC struggles to resolve issues surrounding an April 2010 explosion at an offshore rigging platform that killed some 11 people and caused the largest offshore oil spill in all of U.S. history.
It also comes just a few months after the company indicated a desire to sell the Texas City refinery. The deal could make it increasingly simple for the company to find a buyer, because its pollution liabilities with the state have now been settled. In August of 2010, BP reached a $50.6 million settlement with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for not correcting its safety violations after the 2005 explosion. At the time, OSHA indicated it was also trying to force the company to pay an additional $30 million in fines.
In a statement, BP said:
“BP has maintained a steady focus on improving safety and compliance at Texas City, and this agreement is an important milestone in the progress of operations at the facility…There are rules that must be followed and if you violate those rules there will be consequences…They exposed Houstonians … to poor air quality and now they’re paying the price for it.”
The settlement also resolves a high-profile 41-day benzene release in April 2010 which prompted a class-action suit by Texas City residents as well as an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This agreement however does not resolve lawsuits or investigations by other agencies.