BP faces record $87 million fine

Government charges oil giant for failure to correct safety violations that resulted in 15 deaths at a Texas facility in 2005.

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By Hibah Yousuf, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Labor Department fined oil giant BP a record $87 million for failing to fix safety problems at a refinery in Texas.

On Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the fine, saying BP failed to correct potential hazards at the Texas City, Texas, plant, where there were 15 deaths and 170 injuries after an explosion in 2005.

After that tragedy, BP (BP) entered a settlement agreement with OSHA to eliminate the hazards. But OSHA said that it has since conducted a six-month investigation of the facility and the problems still exist.

"Instead of living up to that commitment, BP has allowed hundreds of potential hazards to continue unabated," said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in a prepared statement. "An $87 million fine won't restore those lives be we can't let this happen again. Workplace safety is more than a slogan. It's the law."

BP, which is based in Houston, appealed the fine to the Review Commission, which makes the final determination. The $87,400,000 fine it must consider is a combination of penalties: $56.7 million for the initial violations and $30.7 million for 439 new violations.

"We are disappointed that OSHA took this action in advance of the full consideration of the Review Commission," said Texas City Refinery Manager Keith Casey. "We continue to believe we are in full compliance with the Settlement Agreement, and we look forward to demonstrating that before the Review Commission. While we strongly disagree with OSHA's conclusions, we will continue to work with the agency to resolve our differences."

If the review board does not overturn the penalty, it will be the largest in OHSA history. The previous record was $21 million, which was levied against BP in 2005.

Shares of BP were down 1.46% in midday trading.  To top of page

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