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Oil Refinery Accident Calls for Chevron Safety Culture to be Questioned

In 2012, a massive fire erupted at Chevron Corp’s oil refinery in Richmond, California. The fire started in one of the crude units after refinery workers discovered a leak. Engineers responded to the leak and removed insulation around a pipe to discover the cause. Shortly after, however, a vapor cloud was released into the air. Investigators reported that, “Due to the high temperature of the material in the tower, in excess of 600 degrees Fahrenheit, the gas-oil immediately formed a large flammable vapor cloud.”

The fire blazed for hours, spewing flames and smoke into the air. Workers had to be evacuated from the site. While firefighters contained the fire, smoke spread into the Bay Area for hours after the eruption. Nearby residents had to remain indoors. Furthermore, in the days following the explosion, thousands of residents were treated at hospital for respiratory problems.

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Approves Final Report Investigating Accident

For the past few years, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board has been investigating the accident. While the board is not responsible for issuing citations or fining companies, it does make safety recommendations to various groups, including plants, industry organizations and labor groups.  The CSB recently approved its final report in connection with its investigation of the Chevron accident in 2012. According to the CSB’s report, the fire endangered 19 workers and more than 15,000 residents had to visit the hospital for medical treatment.

The CSB report identified “gaps in current industry guidelines and shortcomings in Chevron’s safety culture and emergency response.” The report found that numerous safety deficiencies at the plant over the past years caused the vapor to release and cause the fire. Specifically, the report identified 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.

Further, the report found that certain industry standards were deficient. Notably, the CSB recommended that improvements need to be made for the standards relating to comprehensive inspection, facility upgrades, and minimum safety requirements.

Contact a Texas Oil Refinery Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in an oil refinery accident, a Texas oil refinery accident lawyer can help you with your case to make sure that you recover the compensation you deserve. Zehl & Associates’ oil refinery accident attorneys have extensive experience help victims recover compensation for their injuries suffered in oil field or oil rig accidents. If your employer failed to provide a safe workplace, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of wages.

Contact Zehl & Associates’ oil refinery accident lawyers today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Call one of our oilfield accident lawyers at 1-888-603-3636. Our offices are located in Houston and Austin.