Last year, as gasoline prices soared, President Bush recommended a series of long-term solutions, including increasing the country’s oil refining capacity. Last month, a report by the Tony Mazzocchi Center for Health, Safety and Environmental Education showed very clearly that the oil industry is willing to place the country’s existing oil refining capacity at risk every day.


The Center, with a grant from the National Institutes of Health, surveyed 71 of the nation’s 149 refineries to determine whether any had conditions similar to those that led to the explosion and fire at the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas on March 23, 2005 that left 15 workers dead and 180 injured.


Fifty-one refineries responded to the survey the center sent out nine months after the catastrophe that cost BP record OSHA fines of $21 million. By then, the failures at BP Texas City that led to the explosion were known within the industry.


That makes the survey results shocking. It found that 90 percent of refineries that responded still had at least one of three highly hazardous conditions similar to those found at BP Texas City. Forty-three percent had all three. Thirty-five percent had two.


The center’s conclusion: “There remains an alarming potential for future disasters.