Cal/OSHA says a settlement reached with Chevron will improve safety at the Chevron Richmond refinery, the scene of a 2012 chemical release and fire. The agreement resolves Chevron’s appeal of citations issued by Cal/OSHA in 2013. According to Cal/OSHA, the negotiated settlement requires Chevron to institute “extraordinary measures to ensure process safety at the Richmond refinery.”
The company must:
- Replace all carbon steel piping that transports corrosive liquids with chrome-alloy piping, which has better corrosion resistance. The cost of this step, which exceeds current and upcoming safety requirements for refineries, is estimated at $15 million.
- Develop and implement criteria and procedures to monitor equipment to alert operators when equipment should be replaced at a cost of $5 million.
As well, the settlement requires that Chevron:
- Pay the original fine proposed by Cal/OSHA of $782,700, plus an additional $227,300.
- Provide specialized training on incident command and hazard recognition for Chevron Fire Department personnel at the site.
- Provide at least 8 hours of training on process safety management for operators.
- Continue to collaborate with the United Steelworkers on training requirements.
- Donate $200,000 to a job-readiness course to prepare students for jobs in the petrochemical and related industries.
In return, Cal/OSHA has agreed to withdraw 9 of the 17 violations cited, include 4 in the willful-serious category, and amend 5 other violations.
On August 6, 2012, the facility experienced a catastrophic pipe rupture in the facility’s #4 Crude Unit. The pipe released flammable, high-temperature light gas oil, which partially vaporized into a large cloud that engulfed 19 Chevron employees. The released process fluid ignited; 18 of the employees escaped before the ignition. One employee, a Chevron firefighter, was inside a fire engine that was caught within the fireball, but he was able to make his way to safety because he was wearing protective gear.
Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum praised the agreement, which “requires Chevron to exceed current and upcoming requirements and to use new and innovative methods … to ensure the safe operation or process safety equipment.” The result, adds Sum, will be safer operations at the refinery, protecting workers and those who live nearby.