Sunday, July 22, 2007

Gas production: Profits first, Safety last

"It's a marvel we can continue to run refineries the way we do these days given the many requirements and specification changes we have," said Charles Drevna, executive vice president of the refining industry's main trade group, the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. "There comes a time when the piper has got to be paid."

This year's problems have raised alarms about the safety of refining operations, especially after a deadly accident at a BP refinery in Texas two years ago that killed 15 workers. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board issued a highly critical report blaming a broken safety culture at BP. But the board's chairwoman, Carolyn Merritt, who has spoken out about safety problems at refineries, said there was a pattern in many other refinery incidents that the board had investigated.

"There is a lack of investments in modern equipment," Merritt said. "The overwhelming preponderance is that if you have inadequate engineering and equipment, poor process safety management, and poor staffing, you're set up for a catastrophe."

The OSHA laws and staff have been gutted by this wonderful administration.

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