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California Refinery Safety

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board's investigations produce high-impact recommendations to regulatory agencies, state and local governments, corporations, industry organizations and others with the goal of protecting workers, the public and the environment. P1050400

The CSB’s Chevron Refinery Fire Investigation Report made recommendations to the State of California, as well as Contra Costa County and the City of Richmond, to enhance its PSM regulations to ensure a more robust and adaptive regulatory regime.  Following the CSB's report Contra Costa and the City of Richmond undertook significant efforts to revise their Industrial Safety Ordinances.

The CSB views actions taken in California as a model for the rest of the country. The CSB found the issue so significant that the board added modernization of PSM regulations to our list of Most Wanted Safety Improvements.

Major chemical incidents, like ones that have occurred in California, can be prevented by applying process safety management principles. Process safety management (PSM) is the control of process hazards in order to prevent process-related injuries and incidents. The CSB's Chevron report highlight such findings and make recommendations intended to improve the safety of refineries across the state. 

The 2012 Chevron Refinery Fire prompted Governor Brown to establish the Interagency Refinery Task Force, which includes ten state agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local agencies from areas in California that have refineries in their jurisdictions. Among other directives, the Governor’s report “Improving Public and Worker Safety at Oil Refineries” tasked the IRTF with strengthening safety rules for refineries.

For refineries in California, process safety is regulated through several programs, all of which have made steps towards revising these standards. Below lists the following state PSM standards by which California refineries must abide, and their current revision stage:

Program

Goal

Agency

Authority

Revision Status

California Accidental Release Prevention Program (CalARP)

Safety and health of the community

Office of Emergency Services (OES)

California Code of Regulations Title 19. Division 2. Chapter 4.5

Pre-rule

Process Safety Management for Refineries

Minimizing risk to employees

California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) within the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR)

California Code of Regulations Title 8. Division 1. Chapter 4. Subchapter 7. Group 16. Article 109. §5189.1

Pre-rule

Pre-emergency planning

Pre-emergency planning for unified program agencies

Office of Emergency Services (OES)

California Code of Regulations Title 19. Division 2. Chapter 4 Article 3. § 2723

Pre-rule

CalARP – Section on Emergency Response Applicability

Emergency response for refineries

Office of Emergency Services (OES)

California Code of Regulations Title 19. Division 2. Chapter 4.5 Section 2765.3

Pre-rule

 

NEXT STEPS

The CSB believes that California has an important opportunity in revising its refinery safety regulations to better protect workers, the community and environment. The CSB is encouraged by the initiatives moving forward in California and encourages California to lead the country towards safer process safety regulations.

Please consult the Interagency Refinery Task Force website for more up to date status of the revisions and opportunities to comment: http://www.calepa.ca.gov/Refinery/

INVESTIGATIONS

The CSB has investigated multiple refinery incidents in California including:

RESOURCES 

 

 

Last updated February 12, 2016

 
 
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