Chemical explosion eyed in BP death
TEXAS CITY — The federal investigator who led a two-year probe of deadly explosions at BP’s Texas City refinery in 2005 is on his way to the facility again after the company said a chemical explosion may have led to the death of an employee Monday.
Earlier reports suggested that water pressure caused a heavy lid to fly off a water filtration vessel, killing William Joseph Gracia, a 32-year veteran of the refinery.
An attorney for Gracia’s family has said the lid weighed more than 500 pounds and was attached with old, poorly maintained bolts. The company has said it won’t speculate on any causes in the accident until an investigation is complete.
Don Holmstrom, an investigator for the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, was expected to lead a team that will arrive at the refinery today.
The board issued a statement Thursday saying that BP “informed the board that a chemical explosion may have been involved” in the accident.
The board is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. It doesn’t issue citations or fines but makes safety recommendations to industry and regulatory agencies.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating the accident.
It was the third accidental death at the refinery in as many years and the third since 15 people were killed and almost 200 were injured in the March 2005 explosions.
The Galveston Daily News
January 18, 2008
By Mark Collette
The Daily News
Published January 18, 2008