Chevron to Pay $1M, Improve Safety After 2012 Refinery Fire

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By David McAfee

Chevron will pay more than $1 million and make comprehensive safety changes at its Richmond, Calif., refinery as part of a settlement with California’s workplace health and safety regulator following a 2012 fire.

The settlement, announced July 24, resolves Chevron’s appeal of citations issued by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) in January 2013. The agency issued 17 workplace safety and health violations, including six serious and nine willful, following a fire at the refinery.

“Chevron USA and Cal/OSHA have reached an acceptable agreement that resolves the citations in connection with an Inspection of the refinery resulting from the 2012 fire,” Patty Canessa, the Chevron public affairs manager for the refinery, told Bloomberg BNA in a July 24 email. “As concluded in the agreement, we will continue to make improvements to our facility, consistent with our ongoing efforts to protect our employees and the community.”

As part of the agreement, Chevron will pay $782,700 in proposed fines from 2013, as well as an additional $227,000. For its part, Cal/OSHA has agreed to withdraw nine of the 17 violations and downgrade five of those remaining.

Terms of Settlement

Cal/OSHA says Chevron has agreed to replace all carbon steel piping that transports corrosive liquids with corrosion-resistant chrome-alloy piping, which will cost about $15 million. The terms of the settlement also require Chevron to develop and implement ways to alert operators when equipment needs to be replaced.

Clyde Trombettas, statewide manager and policy adviser for Cal/OSHA’s process safety management unit, said these two changes go “above and beyond” what is required by the state’s regulations. The changes were also sought by the surrounding community and the workers, he added.

“Today, I cannot go into my 14 other refineries and force them to do what Chevron is doing” under the agreement, Trombettas told Bloomberg BNA July 24.

Chevron will also provide specialized training on hazard recognition, give at least eight hours of in-person training on process safety management, and continue collaborating with the United Steelworkers.

‘Huge Settlement’

Trombettas described the result as a “huge settlement” considering all the money Chevron will pay in fines and upgrades.

“The penalty, $1,010,000, was the highest penalty assessed on any employer in Cal/OSHA history, which I think is very significant,” he told Bloomberg BNA.

Trombettas also noted that Chevron is expected to pay at least $20 million in costs associated with certain safety upgrades. Further, Chevron will donate $200,000 to the Regional Occupational Program in Richmond, according to Cal/OSHA.

To contact the reporter on this story: David McAfee in Los Angeles at dmcafee@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

For More Information

The settlement order is at http://src.bna.com/q3x

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