Richmond Refinery Fire to Cost Chevron $2M
MARTINEZ, Calif. (CN) - Chevron pleaded no contest Monday to various violations of California law related to a 2012 refinery explosion in Richmond.
A gas leak caused the refinery explosion, which sent poisonous fumes into homes and businesses across the North Bay, blotting out the afternoon sun. It burned for more than a day and could be seen more than 35 miles away.
The plea involves all six counts California filed against Chevron USA that same day for violations of the Labor Code and the Health and Safety Code.
California said Chevron was using deficient equipment and failed to prevent nonemergency personnel from entering the emergency area.
Chevron also allegedly failed to implement an effective program that would protect employees from imminent hazard.
California said Chevron additionally failed to require the use of protective equipment that would protect employees from exposure to potential harm.
Two Health and Safety Code convictions involved the negligent emission of air contaminants.
The plea requires Chevron to inspect every piece of pipe identified as subject to sulfidation corrosion. The oil giant must also change its business practices.
California noted that 19 Chevron employees were engulfed by the vaporized high-temperature fluid that was released from the rupture. Two minutes after the release, the flammable portion of the vapor ignited.
Chevron also faces over three years of probation, during which time it must conduct inspections and permit oversight by the state.
In addition to seeking expert advice on upgrades, Chevron must also provide enhanced safety training.
It will pay $1.2 million in fines and penalties. Another $575,000 in costs will go to to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the California Department of Justice.
Chevron will also be required to contribute $145,000 to Richmond BUILD, a public-private partnership focused on developing well trained and skilled workers in the high-growth, high-wage construction and renewable energy fields.
Residents of Richmond and other cities northeast of San Francisco sued Chevron for damages related to the fire earlier this year.