California proposes stronger measures to protect oil refinery workers, community residents
Sacramento – California’s Department of Industrial Relations, together with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the California Environmental Protection Agency, on July 14 published regulatory amendments intended to bolster safety for the state’s refinery workers and communities.
The first proposal recommends changes to the state’s Process Safety Management Standard. The updated standard would require oil refineries to implement inherently safer systems “to the greatest extent feasible,” perform periodic assessments of safety culture, conduct root cause analyses after incidents and develop corrective measures in response.
The second proposal aims to strengthen the California Accidental Release Prevention program. The program’s goal is to prevent the release of hazardous substances that harm public health and the environment, keep damage to a minimum should a release occur, and fulfill the right-to-know laws of the community.
The proposed changes to the CalARP program would increase transparency by providing more information to the public, making annual reporting of process safety performance indicators a requirement, and making investigation reports available to the public after major incidents.
“The proposed regulations will put into place new strategies to prevent major incidents at refineries, and to protect refinery workers and surrounding communities from exposure to health and safety risks,” David M. Lanier, secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, said in a press release.
Chemical Safety Board Chair Vanessa Sutherland praised both efforts.
“The proposed amendments to the California Process Safety Management program and Accidental Release Prevention program are significant improvements that will strengthen protections for workers, communities and the environment, based on lessons learned and best practices,” Sutherland said in the release. “We look forward to seeing the final regulations implemented, and we hope that they prove to be a model for refinery worker protection and public safety for the rest of the country.”
The regulations implement key recommendations of the Governor’s Interagency Task Force on Refinery Safety, established after the 2012 Chevron Corp. refinery fire in Richmond, CA.