HOUSTON, Aug 12 (Reuters ) - BP Plc <BP.L> <BP.N> will pay a record
fine for safety violations at its troubled Texas City, Texas refinery, the
U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis was set to announce the fine in a
Thursday afternoon conference call with reporters.
A BP spokesman declined to discuss the matter.
In October, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration
slapped BP with a record $87.4 million in proposed fines for safety
violations at the Texas City refinery, which was the site of a deadly
explosion in 2005.
In the October announcement, Solis said old and new safety violations
found by OSHA at BP Texas City, the nation's third largest refinery, "could
lead to another catastrophe" like the 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers
and injured 180 others.
BP defended its efforts to improve safety at the 465,000 barrel per day
(bpd) refinery, located about 50 miles south of downtown Houston.
The company also filed an appeal of the fine.
Last week, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sued BP for a 40-day
release of excess pollution including carcinogenic benzene in April and May
at the refinery.
The company was also hit with a $10 billion federal class action
lawsuit earlier this month for the April-May pollution, which BP reported
to state regulators.
Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who filed the class-action suit, which
had over 12,000 plaintiffs, welcomed the Labor Department's action.
"We believe the fine to be appropriate and welcome the government's
efforts in our quest to force this British company to comply with U.S. and
Texas Law," Buzbee said. "BP's record rivals the worst in U.S. history."
Last year, BP pled guilty to federal criminal charges in the 2005
explosion and paid a $50 million fine.
(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by John Picinich)