Cal/OSHA Cites Chevron Nearly $1 Million for Richmond Refinery Fire

     Cal/OSHA Cites Chevron Nearly $1 Million for Richmond Refinery Fire

PR Newswire

OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 30, 2013

Imposes Highest Penalties Allowed Under State Law

OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The California
Division of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA) today issued 25 citations
against Chevron USA, with proposed penalties totaling nearly $1 million, for
state safety standard violations related to the August 6, 2012 fire at
Chevron's Richmond refinery. The citations include eleven "willful serious"
and twelve "serious" violations, resulting in the highest penalties in
Cal/OSHA's history.

"Ensuring worker safety is the employer's responsibility," said Department of
Industrial Relations Director Christine Baker, who oversees Cal/OSHA.
"Refineries must take the steps needed to prevent incidents like the August
Chevron fire. Failure to do so can pose great dangers to workers, surrounding
communities and the environment."

Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess said the penalties of $963,200 against Chevron are
the highest allowed under state law. "Our investigators found willful
violations in Chevron's response before, during and after the fire," said
Widess.

On August 6, 2012, ^ a fire broke out at the refinery when a severely corroded
pipe in Chevron's #4 Crude Unit began leaking. Chevron managers did not shut
down the unit but instructed workers to remove insulation, which led to the
pipe's rupture and a massive fire. While there were no serious worker
injuries, a reported 15,000 residents of surrounding communities sought
treatment after breathing emissions from the fire.

Cal/OSHA immediately launched an investigation into the fire and the leak
repair procedures throughout the refinery, and found the following:

  oChevron did not follow the recommendations of its own inspectors and
    metallurgical scientists to replace the corroded pipe that ultimately
    ruptured and caused the fire. Those recommendations dated back to 2002.
  oChevron did not follow its own emergency shutdown procedures when the leak
    was identified, and did not protect its employees and employees of Brand
    Scaffolding who were working at the leak site.

Twenty-three violations were classified as "serious" due to the realistic
possibility of worker injuries and deaths in the fire. Eleven of these serious
violations were also classified as "willful" because Cal/OSHA found Chevron
did not take reasonable actions to eliminate refinery conditions that it knew
posed hazards to employees, and because it intentionally and knowingly failed
to comply with state safety standards.

The "willful serious" violations include the following:

  oChevron did not follow its own policies or act on repeated recommendations
    to replace the corroded pipe that ultimately ruptured;
  oChevron did not test pipe thickness in areas identified as susceptible to
    corrosion and leaks because of the high temperature and high-sulfur
    content of the crude oil;
  oChevron did not implement its own emergency procedures to shut down the
    Crude Unit where the leak occurred, and exposed workers to harm by
    directing them to remove insulation;
  oChevron did not recognize the potential for a catastrophic release of
    ignitable diesel fuel from the leaking pipe, and ordered contractor
    employees to erect a scaffold at the leak site;
  oChevron allowed workers to enter the hazardous incident zone without
    proper personal protective equipment;
  oChevron had pervasive violations in its leak repair procedures throughout
    the refinery. Cal/OSHA investigators identified leaks in pipes that
    Chevron had clamped as a temporary fix. In some cases the clamps remained
    in place for years, rather than replacing the pipes themselves.

There were also violations in Chevron's overall implementation of its own
"process safety management" (PSM) procedures, required by Cal/OSHA of all
refineries. PSM regulations require refineries to implement a comprehensive
safety plan that includes a precise determination of what hazards exist and
procedures to eliminate or reduce them. Employers must ensure that machinery
and equipment are in good condition, that work procedures are safe, that
hazards are controlled, and that workers are trained to safely operate the
equipment, recognize hazards and respond appropriately in emergency
situations.

"It is Chevron's responsibility to ensure the safety of its operations. Having
an effective workplace safety culture is essential in preventing these kinds
of incidents," said Widess. "This case demonstrates the risks that occur when
a refinery does not follow its own safety maintenance program."

Cal/OSHA has ongoing investigations for Chevron at its El Segundo refinery in
the Los Angeles area and its oilfield in Lost Hills near Bakersfield.

Copies of the citations issued today against Chevron as well as Brand
Scaffolding are posted online.

Employers who want to learn more about Cal/OSHA, the process safety management
and other workplace health and safety standards can access additional
information online.

Workers with work-related questions or complaints can call the California
Workers' Information Hotline at (866) 924-9757. Complaints can also be filed
confidentially withCal/OSHA District Officeslisted on Cal/OSHA's website.

CONTACT:
Erika Monterroza
Peter Melton
(510) 286-1161

Internet: www.dir.ca.gov
Twitter: @CA_DIR
Facebook.com/CaliforniaDIR

SOURCE Cal/OSHA

Website: http://www.dir.ca.gov/
 
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