BP Engineer: Company Provided Wrong Data for Permit

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BP Engineer: Company Provided Wrong Data for Permit

12/13/2007
GALVESTON, Texas -- In a state court here earlier this week, an engineer at BP's Texas City, Texas, refinery testified that the company used wrong information twice on an air pollution permit application, which covered the unit of the plant that exploded in 2005, killing 15 and injuring hundreds, Bloomberg News reported.

The engineer, Reuben Herrera, told jurors who will decide injury claims by eight workers that the company misstated the unit's mechanisms that released vapors through a "flare" to burn off emissions and its monitoring of relief valves.

"We did not have a flare," Herrera stated. "After the accident, we realized we didn't have a monitoring program on those relief valves." He added that "BP did not provide correct information."

Herrera stated after he joined BP from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the company's flex permit application incorrectly indicated the octane-boosting unit was vented to a flare, not the blowdown drum, which exploded, according to Bloomberg News.

Herrera told jurors he changed the application to indicate the system was vented to relief valves that were regularly monitored and inspected. However, after the blast, he found the unit's relief valves were inaccessible and couldn't have been monitored under normal operations, Bloomberg News reported.

BP settled three previous trials over blast claims. The eight plaintiffs in this trial are seeking more than $1 billion in compensatory and punitive damages, Bloomberg News reported.

BP spokesman Neil Chapman, who is attending the trial, declined to comment to Bloomberg News on the testimony.