press release

Chevron Press Release - Chevron Continues Probe Into March Refinery Fire -- Responds To Cal/OSHA

RICHMOND, Calif., Sept. 16, 1999 --Chevron today re-affirmed its commitment to safe operations at the Richmond Refinery and responded to the Cal/OSHA citations related to a fire in the refinery's hydrocracking unit last March.

Chevron has previously reported that the fire ignited as a result of a leak in the unit's piping system, which apparently occurred when a valve failed. The valve was initially installed more than 30 years ago. Since that time, about 60 similar valves have operated in the Richmond Refinery.

"We work very hard to maintain safe, incident-free operations, and we are continuing our investigation into this incident so that we can fully understand its cause in an effort to prevent recurrence," said Richmond Refinery General Manager Bill Steelman. "As a precautionary measure, Chevron has decided to replace all valves of this type at Richmond," he added.

At this time, the cause of the valve failure is not known. Metallurgical testing is being performed by an independent laboratory and the results are expected in the next several weeks. Chevron expects to complete its root-cause analysis of the incident by the end of the year and will issue final reports to the appropriate agencies.

Cal/OSHA issued four citations regarding the valve. Chevron had installed devices and adjusted operating procedures to avoid potential overpressuring of this valve type. Cal/OSHA contends that Chevron's communications and procedures regarding the modifications were inadequate.

The two remaining Cal/OSHA citations regard administrative and communication issues unrelated to the cause of the fire. Chevron is still reviewing the six Cal/OSHA citations and has not determined if it will file an appeal.

Chevron has fully cooperated with Cal/OSHA in its independent investigation and assembled its own investigation team consisting of personnel from the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers International Union (PACE); Richmond Refinery Operations, Maintenance, Engineering, Equipment Reliability, and Process Safety Management departments; and Chevron Research and Technology Co.'s Fire and Process Safety Department.

The Richmond Refinery hydrocracking unit, a processing plant, which produces gasoline and jet fuel, remains shut down, likely for the remainder of the year. The refinery is currently operating at about 85 percent of its gasoline capacity. However, Chevron continues to meet customer demand.

The Richmond Refinery employs about 1,450 people and has a 240,000 barrel-per-day crude oil processing capacity.

Updated: September 1999