April 19, 2013
Statement to Chemical Safety Board Regarding Public Meeting
Chevron U.S.A. Inc. (CUSA) appreciates the opportunity to submit this statement to the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) public meeting on the draft Interim Report. Ongoing proceedings prevent us from participating directly this evening.
Prior to the issuance of this report, we have met many times with representatives of the CSB, various oversight agencies, and other parties in connection with the incident and the many ongoing investigations. We will continue to engage in, and seek to support, these efforts.
We acknowledge the extensive efforts of the CSB investigators. We will continue our cooperation with them, and will carefully consider the recommendations directed to CUSA. That said, we respectfully disagree with several significant findings in the Interim Report.
We also note that the CSB has released an animation with respect to the events of August 6, 2012. After we previewed the animation, we strongly urged the CSB not to release it. We informed the CSB that the animation contains numerous, material factual inaccuracies, the impact of which is to oversimplify, and in some instances trivialize, decisions that were made on that day. The animation also focuses on the actions of specific individuals, which we believe has the effect, surely not intended, of demeaning the challenges faced by the responding personnel. The reasons behind the incident are far more complex than depicted in the animation and we are disappointed with the CSB's decision to go forward with this unfair depiction.
At the refinery itself, we are moving forward on a wide range of actions in response to the August 2012 incident, all of which address issues raised by the CSB. These actions, and others we have taken, will help to build on our prior efforts aimed at a stronger, more transparent safety culture throughout our refinery network. We have laid out our implementation of these actions with the CSB, federal, state and local regulatory agencies since late last year and will continue to report on our progress.
These efforts include several changes to the Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) program that address the CSB's recommendation to CUSA, and we are strengthening the Richmond Refinery's reliability program for piping and equipment in a way designed to further ensure coverage of potential damage mechanisms applicable to those systems.
The Refinery has also begun to implement an enhanced damage mechanism review for each unit and piping circuit designed to further efforts to evaluate known damage mechanisms, to better identify the potential consequences of a failure, and to provide additional safeguards to mitigate piping failures and other potential risks. PHA procedures are also being modified to expand the ability to consider known corrosion threats/mechanisms.
Details on our progress implementing the full range of actions we are taking are available on our website.
With respect to the Interim Report's discussion of regulatory oversight, we would note that all of these efforts are informed by our extensive work and communication with representatives of the CSB, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), Contra Costa Health Services, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District as they have conducted multiple investigations into the incident and inspections of our process safety management systems. Most recently, Cal/OSHA completed a detailed audit of our pre-startup safety review process before they allowed us to move towards the restart of the No. 4 Crude Unit. We will also soon begin discussions with Contra Costa Health Services in preparation for a proposed review of the Refinery's safety culture, process safety management systems, and human factors associated with our operations.
Whatever disagreements we may have with particular findings, or matters like the CSB animation, there should be no doubt of our commitment to work cooperatively with the CSB and other oversight agencies on the shared goal of effective and efficient regulation designed to enhance the safety and reliability of refinery operations across the entire industry.
April 12, 2013
Chevron Investigation Report
Chevron U.S.A. Inc. released a detailed investigation report into the causes of the August 6, 2012 fire. The investigation team included independent scientific and engineering experts, members of the United Steelworkers Union, and Chevron technical experts.
The investigation concluded that a carbon steel pipe within the refinery's crude oil processing unit failed due to thinning caused by a chemical process known as sulfidation corrosion. The corrosion occurred in a pipe component approximately five feet in length that contained lower levels of silicon than other portions of the pipe. Silicon helps prevent corrosion in carbon steel pipes used in refinery operations.
In an open letter to the community, Refinery General Manager Nigel Hearne discusses the investigation and what the company is doing to improve safety and reliability.
Chevron will continue to work cooperatively with government agencies that have been involved in looking into this incident. The company has completed repairs to the crude unit and expects to resume normal refinery operations in April.
Chevron Investigation Report regarding No. 4 Crude Unit Incident (7.5 MB)
Status Report on Actions Taken on the August 6 Incident (65 KB)
Press Release: Chevron Investigation Identifies Causes of Richmond Refinery Fire (42 KB)
April 5, 2013
Letter to Senator Loni Hancock
In response to a public meeting held April 5 by Senator Loni Hancock, we submitted a letter (42 KB) that updates her and other stakeholders on what we have learned since the incident, the actions we are taking to prevent a similar incident in the future, and the steps we have taken to repair the crude unit in a safe and reliable manner.
February 13, 2013
Chevron Richmond Statement Regarding the Chemical Safety Board's News Release and Metallurgy Report
Chevron U.S.A. Inc. has reviewed Anamet, Inc.'s technical evaluation (7.91 MB) of the piping samples taken from the Chevron U.S.A. Richmond Refinery following the August 6, 2012, incident.
The report concludes that the carbon steel pipe that failed had low-silicon content. This finding is consistent with Chevron U.S.A.'s preliminary observation in its September 2012 Industry Alert that, when exposed to sulfidation-corrosion conditions, carbon steel piping with low-silicon content can corrode at an accelerated rate not readily detected by existing corrosion monitoring locations. As we stated in the Industry Alert, Chevron U.S.A. is inspecting every pipe component in the crude unit susceptible to sulfidation corrosion. Any component found to be unsuitable for service will be replaced before restarting the unit.
We want to be clear that our strong focus is on preventing a similar incident from happening in the future. As we have previously communicated, we are implementing corrective actions that will strengthen management oversight, process safety, mechanical integrity and leak response.
Our internal investigation of the incident is nearing completion. While we do not agree with some of the characterizations in today's Chemical Safety Board news release, we are committed to discussing the findings from our investigation and our corrective actions with the investigating agencies prior to release of the report and restart of the crude unit.
January 30, 2013
Chevron Statement Regarding Cal/OSHA Citations
We are in the process of reviewing the citations issued by Cal/OSHA and are continuing to cooperate with local, state, and federal agencies investigating the August 6, 2012, incident at the Richmond refinery.
Chevron takes our commitment to safe operations seriously. Although we acknowledge that we failed to live up to our own expectations in this incident, we do not agree with several of the Cal/OSHA findings and its characterization of some of the alleged violations as "willful." Chevron intends to appeal.
Separately, on January 28, 2013, we submitted an update to our 30-Day Report to Contra Costa Health Services on the status of our ongoing internal investigation and the corrective actions we have begun to develop and implement. These corrective actions will strengthen process safety, mechanical integrity, and management oversight. Specifically, we are:
- Enhancing inspections of piping components potentially susceptible to sulfidation corrosion since carbon steel components with low-silicon content can corrode at an accelerated rate. This inspection program is being applied throughout our refinery system worldwide.
- Strengthening reliability programs for piping and equipment, and enhancing competency requirements for leaders, inspectors and engineers.
- Strengthening leak response protocols and reinforcing the authority that everyone has to shut down equipment.
- Creating more management oversight and accountability for process safety and re-emphasizing focus on process safety.
Chevron is committed to implementing these changes promptly and on a sustained basis at Richmond and across our manufacturing network as appropriate.
January 28, 2013
Today we submitted an update (767 KB) to our 30-Day Report to Contra Costa Health Services. The report provides an update on the status of our ongoing internal investigation, which will be completed prior to restart of the refinery's crude oil processing unit, and an overview of the corrective actions we are taking at the refinery in response to the incident. These comprehensive actions will strengthen process safety, mechanical integrity, and management oversight.
For more information on the August 6 Richmond Refinery fire, please see our previous updates.