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Post investigation - legal action

The investigations that have been described in the previous sections result in a picture of the Complex at the time of the incidents which fell short of the BP Group’s high expectations for the management of safety and environmental performance.

It should be noted that good fortune played a large part in minimising the consequences of the three incidents and in fatalities or serious injuries being avoided as a result of the incidents which occurred. However the potential for significantly increased damage to property, increased harm to personnel both on and off-site and increased harm to the environment existed.

Following on from the investigations it was considered that BP at the time were in breach of statutory legal requirements and the Competent Authority considered carefully the grounds for prosecution of BP for breaching safety legislation and for prohibition of continuing operation of the Complex or parts of the Complex.

Following the series of incidents and subsequent investigations a report recommending legal proceedings on indictment was prepared and submitted to the Procurator Fiscal, the Scottish public prosecutor (www.procuratorfiscal.gov.uk). Close liaison with the Procurator Fiscal (William Gallacher) had been a feature from the outset of investigations.

The HSE alleged breaches of health and safety law for the FCCU and MP steam rupture incident. In the power distribution failure incident evidence to prove a breach beyond reasonable doubt required for a criminal law case was not available. 

Charges recommended to the Procurator Fiscal by the HSE were:

Alternative charges are a feature of Scottish law.

The Procurator Fiscal and Crown Office served an indictment on BP Grangemouth Oil Refinery Limited for breaches of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 Section 2 and on BP Chemicals Limited for breaches of the Heath & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 Section 3.

Indictment procedures are held before a Sheriff and Jury and have unlimited fine potential due to the serious nature of the offence and the size of the company.

The case was heard on indictment in Falkirk Court in front of Sheriff Albert Sheehan on 18th January 2002. BP Chemicals Limited was fined £250,000 for the steam main offence and BP Grangemouth Oil Refinery Limited was fined £750,000 for the FCCU/Cat Cracker offence. BP was heavily criticised by Sheriff Sheehan for "gross dereliction of duties…"

2010-03-23