HOUSTON - An independent panel left little question yesterday about BP's poor safety oversight, its deficient leadership, and short-term focus at its U.S. refineries - critical indictments for a company still reeling from the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion that killed 15 and injured more than 100.
What remained largely unanswered was how exactly the British company would fill a void in the safety culture at all five of its U.S. refineries, or how long it would take to fix.
The 300-plus-page report from a panel led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III said the company emphasized personal safety over what it called "process safety," or containing potential hazards such as explosions at its refineries in Ohio, Indiana, Texas, California and Washington state.
Baker noted the panel did not set out to investigate the causes of the March 23, 2005, explosion at its Texas City refinery, nor did it seek to lay blame.
Instead, it set out to provide BP with specific and extensive recommendations to improve the company's corporate safety oversight and culture. The panel made 10 recommendations, including that an independent monitor report to the company's board of directors for five years.