From Bay City News:
Federal and state safety officials released a technical report Wednesday on the massive August 2012 fire at Chevron's refinery in Richmond, saying severe corrosion and damage from a fire pike were found on the leaky pipe that sparked the blaze.
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) released
The blaze caused minor injuries to six people and a toxic plume that spread for miles and prompted more than 15,000 people to go to area hospitals complaining of breathing problems.
The metallurgical report, prepared by Hayward-based Anamet Inc., concluded that an 8-inch steel pipe that was installed in 1976 ruptured due to severe sulfidation corrosion and that pipe samples showed a very low concentration of corrosion-inhibiting silicon.
The report also noted a deformation found in the pipe that was likely caused by a fire pike used during the refinery's emergency response to the blaze.
CSB chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said in a statement that he hoped the report "receives widespread attention throughout the petrochemical industry as a precaution to all refiners to carefully examine potential corrosion mechanisms and use the safest possible materials of construction to avoid failures."
Cal/OSHA chief Ellen Widess added, "This report confirms what Chevron already knew -- that the pipe was severely corroded and should have been replaced -- but failed to act on before the August fire."
Last month, Cal/OSHA fined Chevron $963,200 for 25 alleged worker safety violations before, during and after the pipe ruptured at the refinery.
The company has announced it will appeal the citations, and also issued a statement Wednesday in response to the technical report.
"While we do not agree with some of the characterizations in the CSB news release, we are committed to discussing the findings from our investigation and our corrective actions with the investigating agencies prior to release of the report and restart of the crude unit," Chevron said in the statement.
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