By BEN LEFEBVRE
A key pipe in the unit that caught fire at Chevrons refinery in Richmond, Calif., had
lost about 80% of its thickness before the August accident, a
federal investigator said Wednesday.
The pipe is one of the focuses of the investigation into how
the fire started at the 245,000 bpd refinery.
The blaze lasted for hours, sending black smoke over
the San Francisco Bay and forcing local residents to shelter in
An inspection of a 4-foot segment of a pipe leading from the
refinery's crude distillation unit showed its walls
were 1/16 of an inch thick, down from its normal 5/16 of an
inch, said Daniel Horowitz, spokesman for the Chemical Safety
and Hazard Investigation Board, an independent agency that
investigates accidents at refineries.
Chevron in November removed another pipe near the one now
being inspected. Investigators were now looking at why Chevron
didn't replace both pipes.
That's the prevailing view, that this is a big reason
why the event occurred, Mr. Horowitz said. As to
why that thinning occurred, that's what we'll have to find
A Chevron spokesman wasn't immediately available.
Dow Jones Newswires