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California safety board fines Chevron $1 million for Richmond refinery fire

01.31.2013  | 

The Richmond refinery fire in August lasted for hours, sending plumes of black smoke over the San Francisco Bay and causing an estimated 15,000 local residents to visit emergency rooms. An investigation into the fire is ongoing but so far has focused on a corroded pipe leading from the main CDU.

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By BEN LEFEBVRE

Chevron was cited for fines worth almost $1 million stemming from a major fire at its refinery in Richmond, Calif., the state's division of Occupational Safety and Health said Wednesday.

The Richmond refinery fire in August lasted for hours, sending plumes of black smoke over the San Francisco Bay and causing an estimated 15,000 local residents to visit emergency rooms.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, but so far has focused on a corroded pipe leading from the refinery's main crude oil distillation unit.

Cal/OSHA outlined 25 workplace violations, including 11 "willful serious" and 12 "serious" against Chevron and levied fines worth $936,200, the highest allowed by state law.

"Our investigators found willful violations in Chevron's response before, during and after the fire," said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess.

Chevron will appeal the citations, company spokesman Sean Comey said.

"Although we acknowledge that we failed to live up to our own expectations in this incident, we do not agree with several of the Cal/OSHA findings and its characterization of some of the alleged violations as "willful,'" Mr. Comey said.


Dow Jones Newswires



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Hirak Dutta
02.06.2013

We have to create a safety culture that prevents accidents. How come Chevron miss out inspection of vital pipelines in gas oil circuit. More so as the lines are insulated and are prone to under the insulation corrosion.

jim
02.06.2013

I don't know why operators are still operating plants and refineries in California. I can't see where the cost of doing business there is worth the risk and liability.

Michael A. Taube
02.01.2013

Every decision to do or NOT do something requires an act of will. So OSHA's allegations of "willfull" will be difficult to challenge/reverse. This event and OSHA's findings/penalties should be a wake-up call for all Operators: too much "doing more with less" has a real cost!

Ryan Kenworth
02.01.2013

Corrosion is one of the main causes of incident. It's always a critical aspect that should be deeply addressed during process design.
The fire lasted for hours there; it seems both active and passive fire protection countermeasures were not adequate; even these aspects should be more stressed during design phase and operation.
Involved authorities should check safety adequacy of plants on a regular basis during normal operation to highlight deficiencies (if any) before something happens.

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