I would like to take the opportunity to applaud the findings and recommendations contained in the Draft Report released yesterday by the State of California’s Interagency Working Group on Refinery Safety entitled “Improving Public and Worker Safety at Oil Refineries,” an initiative undertaken by California Governor Jerry Brown. This report represents an important step forward in improving oil refinery safety and environmental performance both in California and nationally.
The report effectively outlines the process of adopting several of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s recommendations from our interim investigation report on the August 6, 2012, explosion and fire at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond, CA. These recommendations include requiring refineries to implement inherently safer systems and conduct damage mechanism hazard reviews. The report also announces the creation of an Interagency Refinery Task Force aimed at improving coordination of oversight and enforcement activities by regulatory agencies, and facilitating information sharing. This proposal is aligned with a CSB recommendation contained in its interim report to the California State Legislature to establish a multi-agency process safety regulatory program to improve public accountability, transparency, and performance.
I would like to further commend plans to hire additional safety inspectors to triple inspection capacity and ensure that all recommendations are fully implemented. The proposed activities on behalf of the State of California are a very positive step towards preventing future incidents across the state and help to establish California as a national leader in refinery and process safety. Not only are more preventative inspections by highly competent inspectors needed, but more rigorous major accident prevention requirements are necessary as well.
In this regard, the CSB also welcomes the draft report’s recommendation to the Governor’s Task Force to study the safety case approach, a rigorous goal-setting and prescriptive regulatory regime used widely overseas. The safety case approach is distinguished by its adaptability and requirements for continuous risk reduction for high hazard industrial facilities. The CSB is in the process of completing a second investigation report on the Chevron incident that examines the substantial advantages of the safety case model in driving risk to as low as reasonably practicable, or ALARP.
The CSB plans to release this report later this year, and looks forward to continuing dialogue with the Governor’s Task Force, the California State Legislature, and stakeholders as this report develops.
The State of California is working to ensure that the board’s investigative work has a positive impact on the lives of the people who live and work near refineries across the state of California..