US CSB says California refinery safety plan a national model

12 July 2013 18:54  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--California’s new plan to improve safety at the state’s refineries could serve as a nation-wide guideline for “high-hazard industrial facilities” in general, the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) said on Friday.

CSB chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said that the draft report on refinery safety issued by a multi-agency California task force on Thursday “represents an important step forward in improving oil refinery safety and environmental performance both in California and nationally”.

The draft report, created by California’s Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and the state’s Labor & Workforce Development Agency, was undertaken at the urging of the CSB in the wake of the 6 August 2012 explosion and fire at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond, California.

Moure-Eraso said the California report “effectively outlines the process of adopting several of the CSB’s recommendations from our interim investigation report” on the Chevron refinery accident.

The California report calls for strengthening existing environmental and safety regulations for refineries in the state, better cooperation between plant operators and local emergency responders, and the creation of a special office in CalEPA to co-ordinate actions of other state agencies in implementing the draft plan.

Among other things, the California report calls for new regulations to require “inherently safer systems, periodic assessments of safety culture [and] complete root-cause analysis after significant accidents or releases”.

Moure-Eraso said that the plan “is distinguished by its adaptability and requirements for continuous risk reduction for high-hazard industrial facilities”, a term that could include chemical plants.

The 257-page draft report, “Improving Public and Worker Safety at Oil Refineries”, is available on a CalEPA website.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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