Issue Date: August 20, 2012
CSB Examines Fire At Chevron Refinery
The Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) announced on Aug. 11 that it will investigate an Aug. 6 fire at Chevron’s Richmond, Calif., refinery, located 10 miles north of San Francisco. The accident resulted in a five-hour shelter-in-place order and hospital visits by 9,035 residents complaining of respiratory ailments. Although a dozen workers were near the accident site, only three were injured, none seriously. The fire, however, shuttered much of the refinery, which processes 240,000 barrels of crude oil daily. The fire occurred when a combustible, heavy hydrocarbon liquid known as gas oil leaked from an 8-inch pipe connected to a crude oil distillation tower in the refinery’s crude unit, according to CSB. During repairs, the leak grew and the gas oil formed a large flammable vapor cloud, which ignited. The exact cause of the leak and why Chevron failed to correct the conditions that led to the leak will be included in CSB’s root-cause investigation. The Chevron investigation marks the fifth CSB ongoing examination of a refinery accident.
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