WASHINGTON — Beleaguered oil giant BP has agreed to pay a record $50.6 million fine for failing to correct safety hazards at its Texas City oil refinery after a 2005 explosion killed 15 workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Thursday it is still working to collect another $30 million from BP Products North America for other penalties that the company is contesting.
"The size of the penalty rightly reflects BP's disregard for workplace safety and shows that we will enforce the law so workers can return home safe at the end of their day," Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a conference call with reporters.
While the fines pale compared to the billions BP is committed to paying out for damages caused by the massive oil spill at its well in the Gulf of Mexico, it stands as the largest penalty issued in OSHA's history.
OSHA initially had proposed $87 million in penalties last October, but later reduced it to $80 million because it had inadvertently imposed several duplicate fines.
BP spokesman Scott Dean strongly denied Solis' assertion that BP has a disregard for safe working conditions. He said the $50.6 million penalty was a condition of the settlement but "does not mean that BP violated our previous agreement with OSHA or disregarded worker safety."