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Cal/OSHA and Chevron Reach Settlement of Appeal Following the 2012 Richmond Refinery Incident

Agreement includes provisions to replace piping, institute innovative safeguards

California Department of Industrial Relations, July 25, 2017

Cal/OSHA and Chevron have reached a settlement agreement for a comprehensive plan that will improve safety at the Chevron Richmond refinery and for surrounding communities. The agreement meets and exceeds California’s landmark regulation to reduce risk at refineries, which was approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board in May and is currently pending approval by the Office of Administrative Law.

The settlement requires Chevron to exceed current and upcoming requirements and to use new and innovative methods recently developed by engineering experts in the petroleum refining industry to ensure the safe operation of process safety equipment,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “This means safer operations at the refinery, which will help protect refinery workers and those who work and live nearby.

The agreement resolves Chevron’s appeal of citations issued by Cal/OSHA on January 30, 2013, following an investigation into a fire that occurred at the Richmond refinery on August 6, 2012. Cal/OSHA cited Chevron for 17 workplace safety and health violations, including six serious and nine willful in nature. During the settlement negotiations, Cal/OSHA received input from the United Steelworkers and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The negotiated settlement requires Chevron to institute the following extraordinary measures to ensure process safety at the Richmond refinery:

  • Replace all carbon steel piping that transports corrosive liquids with chrome-alloy piping, which has better corrosion resistance, at an estimated cost of $15 million. This exceeds current and upcoming workplace safety requirements for refineries.
  • Develop and implement criteria and procedures, at an estimated cost of $5 million, to monitor equipment to alert operators when equipment should be replaced. This is a new and innovative practice recently developed by refinery engineering experts.

In addition:

  • Chevron agrees to:
    • Provide specialized, hands-on 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. The training will include at least three hours of instruction and focus on emergency response.
    • Provide at least eight hours of in-person training on process safety management for operators at the refinery beyond the training that is already provided.
    • Continue its collaboration with the United Steelworkers in order to meet the training requirements imposed by the new refinery safety regulation pending approval by the OAL.
    • Donate $200,000, in addition to any monies already donated in 2016, to the Regional Occupational Program in Richmond, a job-readiness course offered by the Contra Costa County Office of Education in partnership with Chevron to help prepare students for jobs in the petrochemical and related industries.
    • Pay the citation penalties originally proposed by Cal/OSHA in January 2013 ($782,700), plus an additional $227,300.
  • Cal/OSHA agrees to:
    • Withdraw nine of the 17 violations cited. The withdrawn citations include four willful-serious category violations, three serious and two general in nature.
    • Amend five of the remaining eight violations cited, as follows:
      • Three willful-serious category violations downgraded to two serious and one general,
      • Two serious category violations downgraded to general category.

About Cal/OSHA

Cal/OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Employers and employees who have questions or need assistance with workplace health and safety programs can call Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch at 800-963-9424. Employees may also file complaints confidentially with a Cal/OSHA district office.

About the California Department of Industrial Relations

The California Department of Industrial Relations, established in 1927, protects and improves the health, safety, and economic well-being of over 18 million wage earners, and helps their employers comply with state labor laws. DIR is housed within the Labor & Workforce Development Agency. For general inquiries, contact DIR’s Communications Call Center at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734) for help in locating the appropriate division or program in our department.


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