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CSB Announces Public Meeting in Richmond, California to Release Final Report and Safety Recommendations Resulting from Chevron Refinery Investigation; Report Released Prior to Meeting

CSB, January 23, 2015

Washington, DC, January 23, 2015 - The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) will hold a public meeting on January 28, 2015, to present the third and final investigation report and safety recommendations from the August 6, 2012, crude unit fire that occurred at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond, CA.  That fire endangered 19 workers and sent more than 15,000 residents to the hospital for medical attention.

CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “The CSB’s investigation report identifies gaps in current industry guidelines and shortcomings in Chevron’s safety culture and emergency response. Our previous reports on this accident have found numerous safety deficiencies that occurred over the years prior to the vapor release and fire as well as root causes and safety recommendations which we are pleased to see California has begun acting upon.”

The draft report will be released today on the CSB website a www.csb.gov to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to review the report prior to the public meeting.

At the meeting CSB staff will present to the board the key findings of their final investigation report on this incident. The draft report addresses additional investigation findings that have not yet been covered in the two previously-approved reports.

The CSB’s third and final investigation report into the 2012 accident details failures in Chevron’s emergency response on the day of the incident.  The draft report states that Chevron did not effectively identify a likely piping damage mechanism and the possibility of catastrophic rupture, and had no leak response guidance or formal protocol for operations personnel, refinery management, emergency responders, or the Incident Commander to refer to when determining how to handle a process leak. 

Finally, the CSB found shortcomings in industry standards related to comprehensive inspection, effective facility upgrades and the need for minimum safety requirements.  The American Petroleum Institute (API) have published several codes, standards, and recommended practices on sulfidation corrosion and response to hazardous process fluid leaks; however, the guidance is inconsistent and permissively written.

Based on the investigation findings the draft report makes recommendations to the American Petroleum Institute to establish and strengthen minimum requirements for preventing potentially catastrophic sulfidation corrosion failures and leak response safety guidance.

The report’s draft recommendations to Chevron seek to ensure more effective corporate oversight in the implementation of internal safety guidance and industry good practice. The draft recommends to Contra Costa County and Richmond, California improvements to their Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO) to provide stronger regulatory oversight with community involvement to the existing safety culture review program for covered facilities such as the Chevron refinery.

At the conclusion of the public comment period, the board will consider whether to approve the final report and safety recommendations. All staff presentations are preliminary and are intended solely to allow the board to consider in a public forum the issues and factors involved in this case. No factual analyses, conclusions or findings presented by staff should be considered final. Only after the board has considered the final staff presentation, listened to the public comments and approved the staff case study will there be an approved final record of this incident.

The hearing is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required; to register for the event, please send email to csbmeeting@csb.gov. Members of the audience will have an opportunity to comment on the draft report, as presented by the investigative staff.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen (202) 446-8094 or via email athillary.cohen@csb.gov


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