Just a decade ago, Texas City saw one of the most disastrous explosions
at the BP Refinery unit. Spitting out 7,600 gallons of hydrocarbons into
the sky, only a small spark was needed to set off the series of devastating
explosions that took place at the refinery on March 23, 2005. A cluster of office
trailers at the plant were completely destroyed, killing 15 individuals
who were inside of them. In addition, 180 more were seriously burned or
disfigured in the accident, making it one of the worst refinery accidents
the country has ever seen. The location of the trailers was one of the
most concerning issues of the incident. They were placed so closely to
the refinery stack to house workers during shutdowns and startups, which
are known to be the most dangerous times for a refinery.
Refineries Still Lack Safety Measures for Workers
The Texas City refinery explosion is the type of accident that awakens
the conscious of the public and the big companies that run refineries-or
so that is what should have been expected. Instead, the refineries that
are scattered across the U.S. remain as dangerous and deadly as before.
According to evidence gathered by investigators, workers keep dying at
Since that 2005 disaster, at least 58 workers have died in refineries across
the country, with many more suffering injuries. Almost 350 fires reported
in just the last 8 years, which amounts to about one fire a week. However,
federal regulators lack hard data to properly track deaths and monitor
safety standards within the industry, meaning that many more worker deaths
and injuries could be attributed to lack of proper safety measurements
Marathon Petroleum Co. Tempts Fate With Tent Sites
What can be done to help minimize the risk these workers face? Following
the tragic Texas City accident, many safety experts urged refinery operators
to move these types of temporary structures much farther away from process
units. While this is only a small step towards improving working conditions,
it is a huge factor for those who are housed in those trailers or structures.
Despite these suggestions, Marathon Petroleum Co. put up three tent sites
during a repair cycle on the same refinery grounds were bodies of workers
had laid nearly 10 years prior. Some feared that this was putting them
at risk to repeat the same type of disaster seen when BP was running things.
Though there has yet to be any deaths reported since Marathon took over
the refinery, several union officials credit the safety of workers to
the changes BP had made in response to the original accident and subsequent
seven deaths that took place over the years. They also believe that changes
put forth in Marathon’s new labor agreement will quickly erode what
little safety was given to the workers.
In response, a Marathon spokesman commented that one of their top priorities
was to protect the safety of workers and the surrounding community. They
also claimed that the company has only improved safety standards since
acquiring the refinery from BP.
The verdict is still out on whether or not Texas City will be put through
another devastating refinery explosion and disaster seen just 10 years
ago on March 23rd.