Mining, oil and gas Chevron refinery fire

California refineries need better oversight: report

Richmond, CA – Agencies tasked with overseeing refinery safety in California need better coordination and stronger regulation, concludes a new report from the state’s Interagency Working Group on Refinery Safety.

The group, formed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in response to the August 2012 Chevron refinery fire in Richmond, CA, called coordination and information-sharing among agencies “insufficient” and cited gaps in the regulatory system. Agencies such as the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health also face enforcement issues, including difficulty hiring, retaining and training inspectors, and inadequate penalties to deter non-compliance, according to the report.

The report calls for the creation of a new task force within the California Environmental Protection Agency by Sept. 1 to coordinate implementation of the working group’s recommendations. Those recommendations include clarifying the reporting requirements for refineries during a hazardous material release, strengthening existing regulations and improving alerts for the public during an emergency.

The findings line up with recommendations in the Chemical Safety Board’s report on the Chevron incident.

In a statement, CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso applauded the group’s report and said his agency will issue a second report on the Chevron incident later this year.