Chevron to allow public agency to oversee probe into flaring incident

Chevron to allow public agency to oversee probe into flaring to ensure transparency
Photo of the Chevron Richmond Refinery flaring incident Dec. 18 was posted and shared on Twitter.

Chevron is allowing a public agency to oversee its investigation into the flaring incident on Dec. 18, an uncommon move intended to ensure transparency, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) has been tasked with overseeing the investigation.

“We recognize that the county has a lot of experience with these sorts of investigations,” Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall said. “We were asked by the county to work with them and we have agreed to accommodate their request.”

While a 72-hour report indicates the flaring incident caused no injuries and had no health impact on the community, Chevron has assembled a team of experts to conduct a root cause analysis.

The investigation team will also include representation from the United Steel Workers, the primary union representing workers at the refinery, and the results of the probe will be shared with the public.

Weekly meetings with Chevron, CCHS and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District will offer status updates on the probe, CCHS said. The investigation is expected to last till the end of January, CCHS told the Times.

The unplanned flaring incident occurred as part of the refinery’s safety system that enabled the depressurizing and shutdown of its Solvent De-Asphalting (SDA) Unit. A loss of cooling in the unit initiated the safety flaring.

The root cause analysis will probe what happened in the SDA Unit that required that it be taken offline.