The Importance of Internal Environmental Audits

It is always good environmental management practice to have regularly scheduled internal audits. The main purpose of such audit is to uncover small or emerging environmental problems and correct them BEFORE they become costly or deadly ones.

On September 22, 2003, BP’s EHS team conducted an internal environmental and safety audit at its Texas City refinery. The report is entitled “Getting HSE Right”. The Executive Summary has become a public document.

The audit team reported the following significant gaps:

  1. The “checkbook mentality”, blame, and status culture still exists throughout most of the Texas City Site; and this limits HSE and general performance.
  2. The condition of infrastructure and assets is poor at the Texas City Site
  3. The audit team is concerned there are insufficient resources to achieve all commitments and goals.
  4. Leadership has not embedded or enrolled the Texas City Site organization in high performance execution.

One of the team’s recommendations to management was to “accept zero tolerance for exceptions to BP (global and local) HSE standards”.

On March 23, 2005 at 1:20 pm – 18 months after the audit report was submitted to senior management – there was an explosion at the same refinery and 15 persons were killed and 180 injured.

Could this incident have been prevented had BP management accepted the findings and recommendations of its own internal audit report?

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