US Chevron labels city’s refinery fire lawsuit ‘meritless’

05 August 2013 18:30  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A lawsuit filed by the city of Richmond, California, in regard to the 2012 fire at a Chevron refinery is “meritless” and “baseless”, the US-based energy giant said on Monday.

The city filed the civil lawsuit last week, accusing the company of “willful and conscious disregard of public safety”.

Six people were injured and more than 15,000 area residents sought medical treatment after the fire.

Richmond is seeking financial compensation for economic damage done to the city from the 6 August 2012 fire at the refinery. A jury would determine the money amount at trial.

The lawsuit alleges that Chevron ignored safety warnings at the expense of public safety.

The company disputes the allegations.

“The city’s meritless lawsuit is a waste of its own resources and yet another example of its failed leadership,” Chevron said in statement. “The baseless allegations against Chevron USA are plainly intended to divert attention away from a dysfunctional city council.

“We will vigorously defend the action, but we remain dedicated to those in the Richmond community who truly wish to improve the quality of life in Richmond and West Contra Costa County,” the company added.

Investigations by Chevron on the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) concluded that a five-foot carbon steel pipe component failed because of sulphidation corrosion, leading to a leak and then a fire at the refinery.

The sulphidation was accelerated by the low-silicon content of the failed component, Chevron said, adding that such low-silicon components can – and did in this instance – corrode at an accelerated rate not easily detectable by multiple corrosion monitoring locations.

Chevron has since made repairs and implemented new safety procedures, and the refinery is back to operating at planned rates.

By: Jeremy Pafford
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