Chevron issues warning to Bay Area refineries

September 26, 2012 7:55:54 PM PDT
Chevron is issuing a big word of warning to other Bay Area refineries after the company found that routine safety inspections failed to uncover the corrosion that contributed to last month's fiery accident.

On Wednesday Chevron sent an industry alert to the other refineries. It said, in part, "We know a section of the pipe failed. We are pretty sure we know why it failed. While we inspected several sections of the 200-foot long pipe, we did not inspect all sections. This is what we are doing now, and this is what we think other refineries should do too."

Chevron spokesperson Sean Comey adds, "What we have done is enhanced our inspection program to try and prevent something like this from happening again. And today we are sharing what we've learned, even though our investigation is ongoing, with other companies so that they can take any effective action they might need to try and prevent something similar from happening."

The section of the pipe that failed, contributing to the August fire, had a thinning pipe issue called sulfidation corrosion. Several things have to happen for this problem to occur -- the temperature inside a pipe with sulfur compounds must exceed 450 degrees Fahrenheit and the pipe must be made of carbon steel with low silicon. All those elements contribute to the early corrosion of the pipes.

This is something Chevron admits it knew, but did not act upon. And this is why so many members of the community are upset, "A better explanation, and see what they're going to do for the community cause that's the biggest I've seen so far since I've been here," Berkeley resident Sheree Snead said.

The section of the pipe in question has been taken away to be analyzed and tested. According to Chevron, the complete results may not be known for some time.


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