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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 October 2006, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
BP attacked over safety standards
By Julian O'Halloran
File on 4

Aftermath of the explosion at the Texas City refinery in March 2005
The 2005 blast at BP's Texas City refinery killed 15 people
The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB), the federal body which investigates major industrial accidents, has attacked safety standards at UK oil giant BP.

Its findings follow an investigation into the March 2005 blast at BP's Texas City refinery near Houston that killed 15 people and injured 180.

BBC Radio 4's File on 4 has found that the CSB says there were eight previous dangerous incidents at the plant.

BP has refused to comment, saying CSB has yet to issue its final report.

The explosion at the Texas City facility was the worst refinery accident in the US in 20 years.

'Reduced staff training'

The CSB alleges that the eight previous safety incidents at the facility were not property investigated, and that the right corrective actions were not taken.

BP workers scanning oil pipelines at the Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska
BP has also been hit by an oil leak scandal in Alaska

It further claims that BP failed to adequately maintain instruments and equipment, and that the number of training staff at the plant had been cut by 73%.

The CSB concludes that such cost cutting was part of a 25% reduction in fixed costs at the plant from 1998 to 2001, which had a serious impact on maintenance and infrastructure.

Back in July, BP announced that it had set aside an extra $500m (270m) to cover claims from the victims of the Texas City explosion, on top of the $700m it had already allocated.

And last month, a US judge informed BP's chief executive, Lord Browne, that he would have to testify over the explosion.

Alaskan problem

The ongoing aftermath of the Texas City blast is not the only safety investigation that BP faces in the US.

In addition, the firm had to close part of its Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska earlier this year, after leaks were discovered in one of its pipes.

In early September, lawmakers at a congressional hearing said BP's neglect of pipelines in Alaska was "unacceptable".

The Prudhoe Bay oil field is the largest in the US.

File on 4: How green is BP? is on Tuesday 24 October at 2000 BST on Radio 4

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