April 2, 2020

CSB Updates Animation of Fatal 2005 BP Texas City Refinery Explosion

An updated animation published last week by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board depicts the events that led up to the explosion and fire at the BP America Refinery in Texas City, Texas, 15 years ago. The massive hydrocarbon release and resulting explosion, which killed 15 people and injured 180 others, led to an investigation by CSB that revealed safety gaps at refineries across the United States. The new animation updates CSB’s most popular accident animation, “Anatomy of a Disaster,” which has been viewed more than 550,000 times on YouTube. The updated animation clearly shows the layout of the refinery, including the isomerization unit that exploded, and both visually depicts and narrates via voice-over the systemic and human errors leading up to the disaster. The description on the video’s YouTube page states that the refreshed animation will be included in an upcoming interactive training application, which will focus on OSHA's Process Safety Management standard.

The incident is the most serious refinery accident investigated by CSB, which uncovered a lack of understanding and safety commitment by corporate management, and organizational and safety flaws at all levels of the BP Corporation. The agency’s investigation resulted in new standards of care for corporate management, which called for the same level of scrutiny to be applied to process safety management as financial management.

CSB Interim Executive Kristen Kulinowski hopes that the animation will help more viewers to learn from the findings of the agency’s investigation. For more information, see the CSB’s news release.