Chevron Hit with Record Fine in Refinery Explosion, Fire

by Jose G. “Joey” Gonzalez, Jr. on 02/21/2013

Chevron Corp. will pay a fine of close to $1 million after California city officials ordered that the oil giant pay the penalty for violations that contributed to a fire at its refinery in California.

The fire broke out at the Chevron refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area on August 6 of last year.  There was an explosion in the refinery, after which the company quickly advised residents of the area that they should stay indoors, and avoid breathing potentially toxic fumes released into the air after the explosion.  The toxic fumes included potentially dangerous sulfuric acid as well as nitrogen dioxide fumes.

In spite of the warnings, many residents were injured as a result of this toxic exposure.  As many as 200 residents visited local hospitals for medical help, complaining of a number of symptoms including respiratory and lung problems.  At least one Chevron employee suffered an injury during the explosion at the refinery.

Now, the California Branch of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has completed its investigation of the explosion, which has been linked to a leaking crude refining unit.  Investigations indicated that the company did not follow recommendations made by OSHA inspectors back in 2002.  That recommendation was to replace a corroded pipe.  The corroded pipe ultimately ruptured, and caused the explosion and fire at the facility. 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators also found that the company did not follow the emergency shutdown procedure that should have been followed after the leak was detected after the fire.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued 25 citations against Chevron.  The company has been levied a penalty of $953,200.00, the largest penalty in the state’s history.

The Texas workplace injury lawyers at Watts Guerra Craft LLP represent persons injured in refinery explosions, from toxic exposure and other industrial accidents across Texas and across the country.

Tags: Oil and Gas Refinery Explosions, Workplace Injury, Toxic Exposure, OSHA, Chevron

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