State programs Chevron refinery fire Oil and gas

CSB recommends stricter regulations for California refineries


Photo: iStock/Thinkstock

Washington – California should strengthen its process safety management regulations for refineries, the Chemical Safety Board stated in a final report on a fire at a Chevron refinery in 2012.

On Aug. 6, 2012, a pipe at Chevron’s facility in Richmond, CA, ruptured – releasing into the air flammable vapor that later ignited and started a fire. No one died or was seriously injured, but about 15,000 people in the area sought medical treatment.

In the report, which was unanimously approved Nov. 10, CSB reaffirms its support for the “safety case” regime, a regulatory approach that requires employers to use reviews and audits to demonstrate reduced risks.

CSB offers several recommendations to California for improving refinery safety oversight, including:

  • Requiring employers to conduct a comprehensive process hazard analysis
  • Implementing a system to collect, track and analyze leading and lagging indicators
  • Improving retention of experienced inspectors through competitive compensation

California has made efforts to improve refinery safety. In September, the state released draft Process Safety Management for Refineries regulations that address several issues raised in CSB’s report.