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

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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