By JOHN BIERS and BEN LEFEBVRE
Chevron CEO John Watson said Thursday the US oil
company replaced pipes in at least one other US refinery based
on a check of facilities following the August fire
at its refinery in Richmond, Calif.
The fire at the 245,000-bpd refinery sent thousands of local
residents to area hospitals with minor injuries and has
resulted in threats of class action lawsuits against the San
Ramon, Calif., company.
Investigations of the accident have so far focused on corroded
pipes found in the crude-distillation unit, where the fire
started, that hadn't been flagged as dangerous in an earlier
"We changed out pipe in some other locations," Mr. Watson
told reporters following a speech at the Council on Foreign
Relations. Mr. Watson said the 260,000-bpd El Segundo refinery, also in California, was
one site where the company changed pipes.
Chevron spokesman Russ Yarrow said the company replaced
steel in the Richmond refinery in the part of the crude
unit that was damaged in the fire. One of the problems with the
steel in the unit was that its silicon content was too low and
the company hadn't done adequate maintenance on the pipes, which were
made of carbon steel.
Chevron's decision to replace the Richmond piping with nine
chrome, another type of metal, has also caused controversy. The
US Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency charged
with investigating industrial accidents, asked Chevron to use
another material because the agency deems other metals more
suitable for the refining environment.
The Richmond City Council passed a resolution on Nov. 20
asking Chevron to delay repairs to the Richmond refinery until
the investigation into its cause is complete. The council cited
misgivings about the technology used in making the
Mr. Yarrow said the 230,000-bpd Richmond refinery is currently running at
reduced capacity, but he declined to say by how much. The plant
is on track to resume normal operations in the first quarter of
next year, he said.
Dow Jones Newswires