In a draft report
released to the public on
Monday, the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is proposing
recommendations for substantial changes to the way refineries
are regulated in California.
Entitled Regulatory Report: Chevron Richmond
Refinery Pipe Rupture and Fire, the CSB draft
calls on California to replace the current patchwork of
largely reactive and activity-based regulations with a more
rigorous, performance-based regulatory regime -- similar to
those successfully adopted overseas in regions such as the
United Kingdom, Norway, and Australia -- known as the
safety case system.
The draft report is the second part of three in the
CSBs investigation of the August 2012 process fire in
the crude unit at the Chevron refinery
in Richmond, California.
That fire endangered 19 workers and sent more than 15,000
residents to the hospital for medical attention.
After exhaustively analyzing the facts, the CSB
investigation team found many ways that major refinery
accidents like the
Chevron fire could be made less likely by improving
regulations," said CSB chairperson Dr. Rafael
"Refinery safety rules need to focus on driving down risk to
the lowest practicable level, rather than completing required
paperwork," he continued. "Companies, workers, and
communities will all benefit from a rigorous system like the
safety case. I believe California could serve as a model for
the nation by adopting this system.
"We applaud the work of the Governors Interagency Task
Force for their proactive approach and highly positive
recommendations to protect worker and public safety in
California. I have great confidence that California will
embrace the recommendations in our draft report and carry
them forward to implement policy
The safety case regime requires companies to demonstrate
regulators -- through a written safety case
report -- how major hazards are to be controlled
and risks reduced to as low as reasonably
practicable, or ALARP.
The CSB report notes that the safety case is more than a
written document; rather, it represents a fundamental change
by shifting the responsibility for continuous reductions in
major accident risks from regulators to the company.
To ensure that a facilitys safety goals and programs
are accomplished, a safety case report generated by the
company is rigorously reviewed, audited, and enforced by
highly trained regulatory inspectors, whose technical
training and experience are on par with the personnel
employed by the companies they oversee, the draft report
The full draft report
is available for public
comment until Friday, January 3, 2014. Comments should be
sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
. All comments
received will be reviewed and published on the CSB website.