Government investigators have reported that a decades-old pipe that leaked and fed a massive fire at a Chevron refinery in California was corroded. It was said that the company should have known it and replaced the pipe. The report issued by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and California Division of Occupational Safety and Health found the 8-inch steel pipe was installed in 1976 and ruptured due to corrosion. The report confirmed previous findings by both the agencies and the company.
The fire created a large plume of black smoke, sending more than 15,000 nearby residents to hospitals complaining of eye irritation and breathing problems. The cloud also engulfed 19 Chevron employees, who escaped severe injuries. Rafael Moure-Eraso, board chairperson, said in a statement: “The corroded pipe should have been replaced when opportunities arose years earlier.”
The report said there was wall thinning in the pipe because naturally occurring sulfur reacted with the steel, creating a specific type of corrosion. The study found the oil processed in that unit of the refinery was high in sulfur and especially damaging to the pipe. If the pipe had been replaced with one higher in silicon, which protects against sulfur-related corrosion, the leak would likely not have occurred, according to the report. The Chemical Board said its investigation into what caused the fire and the safety procedures involved is ongoing.
Cal-OSHA has fined Chevron nearly $1 million after finding willful, serious violations. Chevron is appealing those citations. San Ramon-based Chevron said some of the report’s findings were consistent with its own, and that the company is inspecting every pipe susceptible to the same type of corrosion. A Chevron spokesman said the company doesn’t agree with some of the characterizations in the report. He added that Chevron is doing its own investigation and will take some corrective actions.
Source: Claims Journal
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.