It was cheaper for BP to let refinery workers die…

[Tuesday]

Yet again preventing accidents is thought more expensive than saving lives:

BP weighed costs of refinery blast
Paul Hill
People’s Weekly World Newspaper, 09/13/07

In the ongoing litigation against BP following the March 2005 blast at the company’s Texas City oil refinery that killed 15 workers, a lawyer for some of the victims has produced an internal memo showing BP did a cost-benefit analysis that concluded it would be cheaper to not make structures blast-resistant than it would be to absorb the costs of a possible explosion.

The memo, disclosed by lawyer Brent Coon and reported in the Houston Chronicle, placed a price tag of $10 million on the life of each worker.

Meanwhile, former plant manager Don Parus testified that he was so concerned about three deaths that occurred at the plant in 2004 that he decided to investigate the history of similar incidents. He found that in the 30 years prior to the 2004 deaths, 22 workers had died in the plant. A 23rd was identified later.

Parus, who has been on paid leave since the 2005 explosion, also said a workplace safety study stated, “We have never seen a site where the notion of ‘I could die today’ was so real for so many hourly people.”

Parus said that even though the plant was yielding $100 million a month in profits, his superiors declined to fund upgrades to the physical operations and decided instead to cut his budget.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board found in their investigation that cuts in costs, training and personnel before the blast led to the tragedy.

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