California regulators want Chevron fined $1 million for violations of worker safety laws stemming from the Richmond refinery fire in August, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
The state agency that enforces workplace safety, Cal/OSHA, said Chevron had failed to properly account for the risk of corrosion to pipes such as the one that failed at the refinery Aug. 6. Twenty workers were nearby and narrowly escaped injury when a leaking cloud of hydrocarbon vapor ignited.
Some 15,000 people went to hospitals for exams or treatment after a cloud of black smoke floated over Richmond and surrounding cities. Chevron said this week that it has paid $10 million to local hospitals that have filed claims with the company for reimbursement.
Cal/OSHA’s proposed $963,000 fine against Chevron — stemming from 25 violations of state worker law — is based in part on the company’s failure to anticipate the corrosion that high-temperature, sulfur-laden oil would cause.
An agency probe found that Chevron had considered replacing the pipe as long ago as 2002. By the time the pipe ruptured, it had lost more than 80 percent of its thickness to corrosion, a separate federal investigation has found.
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