State proposes fine for BP explosion

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2003

ANCHORAGE - State safety officials have proposed a $6,300 fine against BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. for a North Slope well explosion that critically injured an oil field worker last August.

The notice given to BP this week accuses BP of violating the state's general worker safety law. BP failed to protect employees from the explosion of a well with abnormally high pressure, did not ensure procedures were followed to prevent excess pressure in the well, and did not ensure that employees understood procedures to control pressure hazards, the state said.

The violation and fine are alleged at this point, said John Stallone, acting chief of the Alaska Occupational Safety and Health section. The violation won't be affirmed until BP either pays the fine or reaches a settlement with the safety agency, Stallone said.

BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said Thursday that BP hadn't decided yet what to do.

"We had a set of procedures for a period of 25 years that worked well. We found out through this accident that they weren't perfect and we needed to beef them up," Beaudo said.

The explosion at well A-22 hit BP worker Don Shugak as he was about to enter the metal well house early on the morning of Aug. 16. He suffered burns and broken bones and spent three months in a Seattle hospital.

Stallone said his agency concluded that BP had not committed a willful violation, which could have resulted in criminal charges or stiffer fine.

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