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Chevron Refinery Fire
December 19, 2013 Flare Up
Please view this statement from Chevron Richmond regarding flaring:
Chevron understands that there is concern over some visible flaring that occurred at the Richmond Refinery on Thursday morning December 19, 2013. Although the sight of the flares may cause concern, we want to assure our neighbors that occasional flaring is a normal and important part of keeping the refinery running safely. Flares are a safety device used in refineries to relieve pressure during the refining process and help keep our equipment and plants operating safely. Materials that are sent to the pressure relief system, such as hydrogen and hydrocarbons, usually are recovered and reused in the refining process. However, in some instances, such as during plant maintenance shutdowns and startups, not all of the material is able to be recovered. In such cases, much of that unrecoverable material is safely burned at the flare, whose primary emissions are carbon dioxide and water.

Our fenceline air monitors are currently showing that the flaring has not resulted in any health risks from air quality, and we encourage you to visit www.fenceline.org/richmond to view real-time air quality data. 

Throughout the day, you may see some additional flaring, but we want you to know that we are committed to operating safely. Nothing is more important to us than protecting people and the environment.

August 6, 2012 Fire 
A fire started in the No. 4 Crude Unit at Chevron’s Richmond Refinery at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 6, 2012. Chevron is working with government agencies to investigate the incident and determine its cause. All employees were safely accounted for. Three employees received first aid for minor injuries.

When the fire ignited, refinery management followed procedures to notify local authorities and activate the facility’s community warning system. The refinery and Contra Costa County Health Services issued shelter-in-place orders for area residents as a result of the smoke generated by the fire.

The fire was contained by 11 p.m. August 6, 2012 and the shelter-in-place orders were lifted by midnight. The No. 4 Crude Unit remains temporarily shut down due to the fire. Chevron does not know how long this unit will be down. Other parts of the refinery unaffected by the incident continue to operate. Chevron is making transportation fuels, but at a reduced capacity.

View the Chevron Richmond Refinery Investigative Photos provided by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

Latest News

CSB Announces Public Meeting - January 28, 2015

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) will hold a public meeting on January 28, 2015 in the Richmond City Council Chambers (440 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond), to present the third and final investigation report and safety recommendations from the August 6, 2012, crude unit fire that occurred at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond, CA. that fire endangered 19 workers and sent more than 15,000 residents to the hospital for medical attention.

CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “The CSB’s investigation report identifies gaps in current industry guidelines and shortcomings in Chevron’s safety culture and emergency response. Our previous reports on this accident have found numerous safety deficiencies that occurred over the years prior to the vapor release and fire as well as root causes and safety recommendations which we are pleased to see California has begun acting upon.”

The draft report will be released today on the CSB website a www.csb.gov to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to review the report prior to the public meeting.

At the meeting CSB staff will present to the board the key findings of their final investigation report on this incident. The draft report addresses additional investigation findings that have not yet been covered in the two previously-approved reports.

The CSB’s third and final investigation report into the 2012 accident details failures in Chevron’s emergency response on the day of the incident.  The draft report states that Chevron did not effectively identify a likely piping damage mechanism and the possibility of catastrophic rupture, and had no leak response guidance or formal protocol for operations personnel, refinery management, emergency responders, or the Incident Commander to refer to when determining how to handle a process leak. 

Finally, the CSB found shortcomings in industry standards related to comprehensive inspection, effective facility upgrades and the need for minimum safety requirements.  The American Petroleum Institute (API) have published several codes, standards, and recommended practices on sulfidation corrosion and response to hazardous process fluid leaks; however, the guidance is inconsistent and permissively written.

Based on the investigation findings the draft report makes recommendations to the American Petroleum Institute to establish and strengthen minimum requirements for preventing potentially catastrophic sulfidation corrosion failures and leak response safety guidance.

The report’s draft recommendations to Chevron seek to ensure more effective corporate oversight in the implementation of internal safety guidance and industry good practice. The draft recommends to Contra Costa County and Richmond, California improvements to their Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO) to provide stronger regulatory oversight with community involvement to the existing safety culture review program for covered facilities such as the Chevron refinery.
At the conclusion of the public comment period, the board will consider whether to approve the final report and safety recommendations. All staff presentations are preliminary and are intended solely to allow the board to consider in a public forum the issues and factors involved in this case. No factual analyses, conclusions or findings presented by staff should be considered final. Only after the board has considered the final staff presentation, listened to the public comments and approved the staff case study will there be an approved final record of this incident.

The hearing is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required; to register for the event, please send email to . Members of the audience will have an opportunity to comment on the draft report, as presented by the investigative staff.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, www.csb.gov.

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen (202) 446-8094 or via email at  


CSB Released Board Approved Regulatory Report on Chevron Refinery Fire

In the final Regulatory Report unanimously approved by the CSB Board and released to the public on November 10, 2014, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) proposes recomendations for substantial changes to the way refineries are regulated in California. Entitlted "Regulatory Report: Chevron Richmond Refinery Pipe Rupture and Fire," the CSB report calls on California to enhance its process safety management (PSM) regulations for petroleum refineries to ensure a more robust and adaptive regulatory regime.

The Regulatory Report is the second part of three in the CSB's investigation of the August 2012 proces fire in the crude unit at the Chevron refinery in Richmond. That fire endangered 19 workers and sent more than 15,000 residents to the hospital for medical attention.

Chevron Investigation Report Released

Chevron has released a detailed investigation report into the causes of the August 2012 fire at the Richmond Refinery. The investigation was conducted by a team that included independent scientific and engineering experts, members of the United Steelworkers Union and Chevron’s technical experts.


CSB Public Meeting - April 19, 2013

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) will hold a public meeting on April 19, 2013, to present the interim report and safety recommendations from the
investigation of the August 6, 2012, hydrocarbon release that occurred at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond, California. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium and Convention Center located at 403 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond, CA.

The CSB determined that nineteen Chevron employees were engulfed in a vapor cloud formed by the hydrocarbon release. Eighteen employees escaped before the fire started and one employee escaped without injury after the fire ensued. The incident resulted in six minor injuries. Production at the crude unit has been suspended since the accident. More than 15,000 residents in the surrounding area sought treatment at area medical facilities as a result of the release and fire.


At the meeting CSB staff will present to the Board the interim results of their investigation into this incident. Key issues involved in the investigation include sulfidation corrosion, effective hazard analysis processes, and requirements for the use of corrosion-resistant materials in refineries. Following the presentation, the Board will hear from invited panel members and members of the public.

At the conclusion of the public comment period, the Board will consider whether to approve the interim report and recommendations. All staff presentations are preliminary and are intended solely to allow the Board to consider in a public forum the issues and factors involved in this case.


The hearing is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required. To register for the event, please send email to
. Members of the audience will have an opportunity to comment on the draft report, as presented by the investigative staff.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.


The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA.


For more information, contact Communications Director Hillary Cohen, (202) 261-3601, cell (202) 446-8094 or Sandy Gilmour at (202) 251-5496.

 

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