Safety and OSHA News

Chevron agrees to $21 million settlement in 2012 refinery fire

Chevron has agreed to pay a $1 million fine in a settlement with California regarding the August 2012 Richmond Refinery fire. On top of that, the oil producer will also spend at least $20 million upgrading equipment and procedures beyond what’s required by state regulations. 

The agreement resolves Chevron’s appeal of citations issued buy Cal/OSHA. The agency cited Chevron for 17 violations, including  nine willful and six serious.

Chevron agrees to:

  • Replace all carbon steel piping that transports corrosive liquids with chrome-alloy piping at an estimated cost of $15 million. This exceeds California refinery requirements.
  • Develop and implement criteria and procedures to monitor equipment to alert operators when equipment should be replaced. This new, innovative practice recently developed by refinery engineering experts is expected to cost Chevron $5 million.
  • Provide specialized training on incident command situational awareness and hazard recognition for all Chevron Fire Department personnel at the Richmond refinery with rank of lieutenant and above.
  • Provide at least eight hours of training on process safety management for operators at the refinery beyond the training that is already provided.
  • Donate $200,000 to the Regional Occupational Program in Richmond, a job-readiness course offered by the Contra Costa County Office of Education.
  • Pay the citation penalties proposed by Cal/OSHA ($782,700) plus an additional $227,300.

Cal/OSHA will withdraw 9 of the 17 violations: 4 willful, 3 serious and 2 general. Three remaining willful violations will be downgraded to two serious and one general. Two serious violations will be downgraded to general.

In a previous agreement with the California Attorney General’s Office, Chevron agreed to pay $2 million in fines and restitution.

Thousands of people flocked to local hospitals on Aug. 6, 2012, with breathing problems from the air quality in their neighborhoods following the fire. The blaze occurred when a corroded pipe leaked flammable liquid. Despite warnings from its own engineers, Chevron had never replaced the 40-year-old pipe.

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