| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Jan 30 California has slapped
nearly $1 million in fines on Chevron for safety
violations related to an August fire at its refinery in
Richmond, representing the biggest such penalties in the state's
history, regulators said on Wednesday.
Chevron received 25 citations from the state's safety
Investigators found willful violations in Chevron's response
before, during and after the Aug. 6 fire at the Richmond
refinery, located northeast of San Francisco, that sent a smoke
column over San Francisco Bay and thousands of people to
The oil giant did not comply with state safety standards,
putting workers at its refinery and the public at risk, the
California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA)
Chevron also failed to follow recommendations by its own
experts to replace the corroded pipe that ultimately ruptured
and caused the fire. When the pipe began leaking, Chevron did
not follow its own emergency shutdown procedures, putting
workers at the site and thousands of areas residents at extreme
risk, Cal/OSHA said.
While no serious injuries were reported among workers at the
refinery, at least 15,000 people complaining of respiratory
problems went to area hospitals in the hours and days after the
The citations include 11 "willful serious" and 12 "serious"
violations, resulting in the highest penalties in Cal/OSHA
A Chevron spokesman said while the company acknowledged that
it failed to live up to its own expectation in the incident, it
did not agree with several Cal/OSHA findings and its
characterization of some of the violations as "willful." The
spokesman said the company plans to appeal.
A scientist with an environmental group said the safety
report provided a disturbing picture.
"As an engineer, it's shocking to see the photos and reports
from Cal/OSHA and other agencies, showing pieces of piping that
were corroded by 80 percent with little more than a shell of the
original pipe holding things together," said Diane Bailey, a
senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"This kind of shoddy and seriously negligent maintenance is
not what you expect to see from one of the largest companies in
the world," she said.
Earlier this week, Chevron said it has paid $10 million in
claims stemming from the crude unit fire at its
245,000-barrels-per-day refinery in Richmond.