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Unsafe Practices Led to BP Refinery Blast, CSB Says

An unsafe culture at oil major BP was behind an explosion at its massive Texas oil refinery that killed 15 people and injured about 180 others in 2005, the head of the main government body investigating the accident said on Monday.

"As the investigation unfolded, we were absolutely terrified that such a culture could exist at BP," said U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairman Carolyn Merritt in a speech to the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association conference in San Antonio.

The CSB on Tuesday will unveil its final draft report into the explosion, the worst U.S. industrial accident in decades.

BP settled several lawsuits related to the explosion, one of several incidents which have called into question the safety practices of the London-based oil major.

"Our own internal report found serious problems with the safety culture at Texas City and also identified the critical factors leading to the terrible tragedy that occurred there," said BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell.

"We are addressing the safety culture issues across BP, as we have been doing since the accident in 2005," he added.

An advisory panel led by former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker found dangerous conditions at all five of BP's U.S. refineries and recommended an overhaul to safety procedures across the U.S. refining sector.

The blast at the 460,000 barrel-per-day Texas City refinery, along with a series of problems at BP's Alaska operations, have tarnished the company's reputation over the past two years.

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