Friday, December 27, 2013

CSB Announces Twin Refinery Investigation Meetings

Today the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board published two public meeting notices in the Federal Register for meetings to review and approve the reports on two separate refinery accident investigations; a January 15th meeting (78 FR 78811-78812) on the 2012 Chevron refinery fire in Richmond, CA, and a January 30th meeting (78 FR 78810-78811) on the 2010 Tesoro refinery fire in Anacortes, WA.
Chevron Regulatory Report

The Richmond meeting will review and approve the staff regulatory report on 2012 fire that caused 15,000 residents to seek hospital care for exposure related issues caused by the fire. This will be the second of three CSB reports on that fire. In this report that staff will recommend (and the Board is expected to approve) a recommendation that California:

“Develop and implement a step-by-step plan to establish a more rigorous safety management regulatory framework for petroleum refineries in the state of California based on the principles of the `safety case' framework in use in regulatory regimes such as those in the UK, Australia, and Norway.”

I briefly mentioned in an earlier blog post that copy of the staff draft ‘Regulatory Report’ [Download Link] has been published for public comments. California is one of the States that has been cleared to enforce OSHA standards so this regulatory change, if adopted, would in effect be the OSHA refinery standard for the most populous State in the country. This means that this report will attract a great deal of attention as this could become a test bed for higher safety standards for the chemical process industry across the whole country.

The proposed safety case regulations would differ from the current PSM standards in two significant ways. First they would require the preparation of “a written ‘safety case report’—how major hazards are to be controlled and risks reduced to ‘as low as reasonably practicable,’ or ALARP”. On the enforcement side the report is “rigorously reviewed, audited, and enforced by highly trained regulatory inspectors, whose technical training and experience are on par with the personnel employed by the companies they oversee”.

As I noted in my earlier post the CSB is soliciting public input on the draft report. In addition, there will be an opportunity for public comments at the January 15th meeting before the Board votes on the acceptance of the staff recommendations.

Tesoro Refinery Report

The Anacortes meeting will review the staff draft of the final report and recommendations based upon the investigation of the fatal accident that killed seven employees at the refinery. An advance copy of the staff recommendations has not yet been made available. A 2011 CSB safety message (see Press Release and Video) on the need for preventive maintenance was based upon the investigation of this incident.

Again, the CSB is soliciting public comments at this meeting and will also accept written comments.

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