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August 02, 2017
Chevron to pay $1 million to settle Richmond Refinery citations

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.”

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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, including 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.

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