- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2007

HOUSTON (AP) — An internal report by BP PLC about its deadly 2005 Texas City plant explosion recommended that four executives and managers be fired for failing to perform their jobs and demonstrating poor judgment.

The report, which had been confidential but was released by court order yesterday, also concluded that the accountability of John Manzoni, BP’s top refinery executive, should be reviewed by the company after he “failed to implement his duties” and didn’t “carry out his responsibilities.”

The report was released two days after the resignation of BP Chief Executive Officer John Browne, who stepped down when a judge lifted a legal injunction that had prevented a newspaper from publishing details of his private life.

Mr. Browne, who turned BP into one of the world’s top energy companies, resigned after he admitted lying to a judge when he tried to block a newspaper from printing accusations by a former boyfriend that he misused company resources.

The February report singled out four managers who “failed to perform their management accountabilities in significant ways:” Mike Hoffman, BP’s group vice president for refining and marketing; Pat Gower, U.S. refining vice president; Don Parus, the Texas City refinery manager; and Willie Willis, a plant supervisor.

Mr. Hoffman has resigned. The others are still employed by the company, according to the report.

BP spokesman Neil Chapman said the company would not discuss specific contents of the report, including what will happen to the managers or to Mr. Manzoni, who is chief executive officer of BP refining and marketing.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, one of several agencies that investigated the accident, found that BP fostered bad management at the plant. The CSB also said cost-cutting moves by BP were factors in the explosion.

Brent Coon, an attorney representing many of the workers injured during the blast, said the report validates the theory that management, not low-level workers, should be held responsible for what happened.

The March 2005 explosion killed 15 persons and injured more than 170 workers. The blast has so far cost the company around $2 billion in compensation payouts, repairs and lost profit.

The Texas City explosion occurred when part of the plant’s isomerization unit, which boosts the level of octane in gasoline, overfilled with highly flammable liquid hydrocarbons. A geyserlike release of flammable liquid and vapor ignited as the unit started up. Alarms and gauges that should have warned of the overfilling equipment failed to work at the plant about 40 miles southeast of Houston.



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