Introduction of the Case Study
The BP Texas City explosion is among the world’s biggest catastrophic disasters that saw the loss of 15 lives of the BP workers and 170 workers being injured by the huge explosion. The accident was actually caused when a few workers tried to start up a splitter referred to as raffinate tower in the Isomerization Unit (Isom) after a repair shutdown (Mogford, 2005). Alarms and instrumentation gave misguiding indications since the 170 ft tower was actually overfilled discharging the liquid to the ‘blowdown’. This ‘was actually installed in the 1950’s and had never had any connections to the flare which is supposed to contain liquids and dangerous vapors released from the blowdown. This actually was one of the main causes and failures of the BP management. The liquid vapor really was lit by fire from a truck near the plant (Professional Engineering Publishing, 2005).
Several commendable and blamable decisions were made regarding the explosion which can be classified as either merits or demerits towards the management of the hazardous and most violent explosion. The first culpable and admirable decision made was the decision of the BP to fully implement the report put forward by the Baker’s Panel, an independent Safety Review Panel, which actually investigated and found out that the BP Texas City lacked a daily operation discipline in terms of time management which lead to workers reporting to work late during their shifts.
The second appraisable decision made by BP was its resolution to reinforce and strengthen the governance and management team. This is an ethical decision that will ensure that the management of the company is run well and smoothly avoiding further incidences that may be catastrophic. Secondly, the decision of BP to commit itself to offer safety to its workers including producing energy that is environment friendly is really a laudable decision that deserves praise and applause (Verschoor, 2010). The decision of the BP management to implement these factors is considered laudable, admirable and praiseworthy since they are seen as upholding ethics, humanity and good moral values since workers health and safety should highly be safeguarded and taken care of. As a matter of fact this can be considered and ranked as a merit towards restoring back the reputation of the Texas City BP oil refinery company and also can be debated as a merit towards ensuring that the BP Workers as safeguarded from all the risks and dangers posed by the greedy BP management system in London whose main focus was just to increase their production targets, operational goals by cutting down expenses and investments by all means.
The second praiseworthy and brave decision taken by BP was deciding to pay and compensate the families of the deceased and most affected by the tragedy. This is more ethical, just and right since BP is actually trying to take responsibility for its failure to actually provide safety to its workers (Sissell, 2006). On the contrary, one of the blamable and culpable decisions was made by the BP headquarter management system in London. They decided to put blame to the local managers in Texas for the cause of explosion claiming that they failed in detecting tragedy. Also, their decision to fire some of the workers who were responsible for the incident can be considered as being unreasonable since they actually were forgetting that the same workers and managers had been calling for more funds to be able to reinforce the company. This is also considered unethical and lack of morality since these workers rights need be protected. In the first place, the company had stayed for a long time without really undergoing major repairs and maintenance which really put lives of the workers at stake.
In this context, the culprits who were responsible for the cause of the explosion do not really bear a lot of blame on them provided that the company was also in a compromising state. The whole management team in London was actually to blame for their failure to construct a flare to be able to safeguard the condensed vapor. They are also responsible for the lack of implementation of the proper and safe training measurements for its workers regarding the safety of the company (Penton Publishing, 2007).
Some of the risk management experts argue and contend that blame should actually be placed at the party whose risks involvement measurements are high and where the risk management measurements are actually low (Andersen, 2010). In my opinion, the culprits do not actually deserve the full blame by the government, BP management system and every one. This is because, according to the standard ways of blame management, they did not have much to be blamed for since the signaling system did not really raise any warning that the barrel was full. In addition, the company’s refinery system was actually very old which actually does not provide the culprits with much to be blamed for. In fact, the management team in London had turned down several calls by the local supervisors and workers regarding the pathetic state at which the Texas Company was.
In this case, various external governance expectations especially by various government bodies like the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) actually help to protect victims of corporate misconduct more effectively and successfully than the ethical constraints and limitations. The action of CSB conducting various investigations regarding the standard safety measures of the workers actually provided much evidence that protected the PB workers. The report actually pushed the blame more to the management board rather than the workforce who really were liable of the mishap. For example, the CSB found that many warning signs were raised by various people and officers regarding the safety of the BP Company actually before the real explosion took place. This investigation in real compromises with the victims’ misconduct and shifts much of the blame to the Company. On the other hand, external governance actually cannot effectively manage the ethical and moral limitations since there are no laws set to manage and foresee that actually victims’ ethical constraints are protected. Finally, this case is related to the three Grangemouth incidents in the sense that, similar external governance actually gave a report that suggested major flaws in the safety of the victims. The report was filed by Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Another similar case in which external governance constraints and expectations really might protect victims of corporate misconduct more effectively than ethical constraints is the case where the governments ‘watchdog’, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), blamed the BP company for taking for granted the safety of its workers. It actually fined BP Company $ 21 million over the Texas explosion (Greenhouse, 2010). In this case, the external governance actually defends and shields the misdemeanors, delinquency and transgression of the victims of the BP explosion more effectively than really their ethical and moral limitations. OSHA actually was very much inconsiderate of the fact that the victims of corporate misconduct might have been on the wrong and might have gone against the ethics and morals of the Company to the extent of delaying to report to their shifts in time.
Sissel, K. (2006, November). BP Settle with Daughter of Two Killed in Texas City. Chemical Week, 26.
Professional Engineering Publishing. (2005, May). Staff Failures Cause of Explosion at BP Plant, News, 11.
Andersen, S. (2005, August). Risk and Reputation: The Unsettling Governance Landscape. Inside Counsel, 51-54.
Verschoor, C. C. (2010, August). BP Still Hasn’t Learned Ethical Lessons. Ethics, 13-15.
Penton Publishing. (2007, June). BP Blames Managers for Texas City. Occupational Hazards, 22.
Greenhouse, S. (2010, August). BP To Pay Record Fine for Refinery. The New York Times, B1. Retrieved on 10 January, 2011. From <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/13/business/13bp.html?_r=1>
Mogford, J. (2005). Fatal Accident Investigation Report: Isomerization Unit Explosion Final Report, 1-176. Retrieved on 10 January, 2011. From <http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/us/bp_us_english/STAGING/local_assets/downloads/t/final_report.pdf>.