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CSB issues draft report on Chevron fire

Washington – Failure to apply inherently safer design principles, conduct damage mechanism hazard reviews and implement safeguards led to the hydrocarbon release and fire at a Chevron refinery in August 2012, concludes a draft report (.pdf file) from the Chemical Safety Board.

The hydrocarbons were released when a corroded pipe burst at the refinery, located in Richmond, CA, CSB stated that Chevron had failed to upgrade the piping despite multiple opportunities to do so and an internal policy requiring the use of inherently safer technology in design and repairs. The incident endangered 19 workers and thousands of local residents.

CSB said the incident could have been prevented if Chevron had followed its own policy or had been required by regulators to repair the piping with a material that was more resistant to sulfidation corrosion.

The report also states that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health lacks enough resources to perform adequate inspections of the state’s refineries.

Among CSB's recommendations are greater regulatory oversight and worker involvement in refinery safety efforts.

The final report is expected later this year.