Possible Chemical Leak at BP Texas City Refinery

An equipment failure at <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/BP-Texas-City-Refinery-Chemical-Releases">BP’s Texas City refinery may have caused a leak of hydrogen sulfide, according to a report in the Galveston County Daily News. Hydrogen sulfide is a hazardous chemical that has a strong smell of rotten eggs.

According to the Galveston County Daily News, workers were doing maintenance work on a sour water compressor on the refinery’s Power 2 unit when they noticed a smell after a piece of equipment failed. The smell is believed to have come from liquid in the subunit that contained hydrogen sulfide, the report said.

The Texas City Fire Department and BP industrial hygienists conducted ground-level air monitoring and did not find any readings of hazardous chemicals in the air. However, the noxious odor forced some businesses on Palmer Highway about 13 blocks from the refinery to close. The smell permeated the area for about an hour. There was a brief shelter-in-place order within the refinery for areas downwind of the leak, however no such order was issued for the city.

Yesterday’s incident was only the latest in the BP Texas City refinery’s troubled history. Earlier this fall, BP agreed to pay a $15 million fine to settle charges levied by the US Justice Department that it violated the Clean Air Act. The settlement addressed violations stemming from two fires that occurred at the refinery in March 2004 and July 2005, and a leak that occurred in August 2005. During the three incidents, each of which resulted in the surrounding Texas City community being ordered to shelter-in-place, thousands of pounds of flammable and toxic air pollutants were released. The settlement also resolved allegations that BP failed to identify all regulated hazardous air pollutants used at the refinery in plans submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The penalty was both the largest ever assessed for civil violations of the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention regulations, also known as the risk management program regulations, and the largest civil penalty recovered for Clean Air Act violations at an individual facility, the Department of Justice said. The violations covered by the settlement were discovered by the EPA during a series of inspections of the Texas City refinery initiated after a catastrophic explosion and fire in March 2005 that killed 15 people and injured more than 170 others.

For help with legal claims stemming from problems at the BP Texas City refinery, please visit <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/BP-Texas-City-Refinery-Chemical-Releases">www.yourlawyer.com.

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