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Huge Explosion at BP Refinery in Houston

BP LogoA huge explosion at BP's oil refinery in Texas has killed at least 14 and injured more than 70. Don Parus, BP's Texas City, refinery manager confirmed there have been fatalities from an explosion that occurred on Wednesday at around 1:20 p.m. (1920 GMT) at the company's isomerization unit at the facility.

"The accident has caused injuries to multiple BP workers, and it is with deep sadness that I must report that there have been fatalities," Mr. Parus said.

Parus said BP was not able to confirm the exact number of injuries or of fatalities at this time, but said the company was cooperating closely with the Texas City medical examiner on site.

"Our primary focus is on the safety and condition of our employees and other workers. We are directing all of our emergency efforts in response to the situation. The fire is out, and we are working with local authorities to bring the situation fully under control and to provide emergency medical care for the injured."

"We have not had time to investigate causes, and we will not speculate." Parus said. "But at this time, terrorism is not a primary focus of our concern."

Emergency response crews have set up three triage locations on the BP property. The company also has set up environmental monitoring around the refinery.

Efforts are continuing to account for all personnel. Parus said that there has been some impact on the local community properties but it is being assessed.

"Our primary objectives right now are to treat the injured and to account for all personnel."

"I wish to stress that our deepest sympathy and concern go out to the families of the injured and the deceased. We are already working with local authorities to reach out to these families."

An inquiry into the cause of the blast is under way. Investigators say terrorism is not their main focus.

The 1,200 acre Texas City facility, 35 miles south-east of Houston, employs 2,000 people. The site is one of the largest in the world with 30 different refinery units for petrol and chemicals and the third biggest in the US. It produces 30 per cent of BP's North American supply of petrol and 3 per cent of the entire US supply.

The refinery has had safety problems in the past. A year ago, it was evacuated after an explosion that cost the company $63,000 in fines.

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Posted 24/03/05


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