'His' blast erupted on a clear March afternoon at an antiquated BP refinery that sits on the southern edge of this small Texas town. It killed 15 people -- four more than died on the Deepwater Horizon -- including 11 contractors in a crew that Senko led at the site. Unlike the Deepwater Horizon, however, the effects of the 2005 blast were largely confined to Texas City, so the story of what happened there quickly slipped from the national news.
The Texas City disaster has taken on new relevance today, because the investigations that were done in its aftermath reveal so much about the company that is responsible for what's happening now in the Gulf. Government probes, court filings and BP's own confidential investigations paint a picture of a company that ignored repeated warnings about the plant's deteriorating condition and instead remained focused on minimizing costs and maximizing profits. According to a safety audit BP conducted just before the 2005 blast, many of the plant's more than 2,000 employees arrived at work each day with an 'exceptional degree of fear of catastrophic incidents.'
What BP has -- or hasn't done -- to improve conditions at the Texas City plant since the explosion is also laid out in the documents.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined BP $87 million last year -- the largest fine in OSHA history -- for failing to repair many of the safety problems that led to the blast. Four more workers have died in various accidents since then, and two chemical releases in 2007 sent more than 130 people to the hospital."
Ryan Knutson reports for ProPublica and PBS FRONTLINE July 2, 2010.