SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Chevron was fined nearly $1 million by the state on Wednesday in connection with a fire at the company's San Francisco Bay area refinery last year that sent a cloud of gas and black smoke over residential areas.
The California Division of Occupation Safety and Health said investigators found "willful violations" in Chevron Corp.'s response before, during and after the Aug. 6 fire in Richmond caused by an old, leaky pipe in one of the facility's crude units.
"Our ... investigation showed that Chevron had repeated warnings and recommendations from its own metallurgists and pipe inspectors about the condition of this pipe," said Ellen Widess, the agency's chief.
"Chevron was in a unique position to really know the hazards that they deal with from their dynamic technologies and processes, many of which are proprietary. They alone were in position to have addressed these hazards."
The agency filed 25 citations against oil giant, and said the $963,200 in fines were the largest allowed by state law. The company said it planned to appeal some of the violations.
Among the findings, the agency said the company didn't follow recommendations of its own inspectors and scientists made in 2002 to replace the corroded pipe that ultimately ruptured and caused the fire.