The 15 worker deaths at the British Petroleum Company refinery in Texas City, Texas on March 23 could have been prevented according to a preliminary report by the United Steelworkers, the union that represents many of the workers at the facility.
“If the company had taken the union’s advice to pipe the atmospheric vent — where the hydrocarbons were released — to the flare system,” there would have been no fire, said USW Region 6 Director Gary Beevers, “And if the company had not violated its own policy and issued themselves a variance in order to place the trailer [where many of the victims were working] in a dangerous unit” there would have been no deaths, he continued.
The Steelworkers union is raising serious questions about the thoroughness of BP’s interim report on the explosion, challenging its focus on blaming employees. “As a union we will do everything in our power to ensure that our members who were disciplined by BP are not blamed for mistakes made by their supervisors or higher level BP management,” said USW President Leo Gerard.
“Blaming workers doesn’t solve the problem of unsafe conditions in that refinery,” added Beevers.