Survey finds Richmond Refinery safety culture strong

Update regarding flaring activity at the Chevron Richmond Refinery
Photo of the Chevron Richmond Refinery

A statement from Chevron U.S.A. Inc.:

We at Chevron U.S.A. Inc. share the Chemical Safety Board’s goal of ensuring that the industry learns something whenever there is an incident. We will carefully consider the recommendations directed to Chevron in the CSB’s final report on the August 2012 incident.

Chevron’s own investigation identified 15 recommended actions to address incident root causes and contributing factors. Chevron subsequently developed 86 action items to respond to these recommendations. Of those, 79 are complete and seven remain in process. One of the completed action items involved the inspection of over 140 piping circuits, representing some 12,000 individual piping components.

We agree with a number of significant findings made by the CSB that are detailed in a letter to the CSB, which is publicly available here.

However, Chevron believes the CSB has presented an inaccurate depiction of the Richmond Refinery’s current process safety culture. The refinery continues to move forward on a wide range of actions in response to the August 2012 incident. These will only build on our prior efforts aimed at a stronger, more transparent safety culture throughout our refinery network.

For example, as part of our continual improvement process, Chevron has conducted surveys, audits, and other feedback mechanisms which have repeatedly shown that employees and contractors feel supported in their use of Stop Work Authority and give Chevron credit for developing a strong safety culture.

In a third-party survey commissioned by Contra Costa County, when asked whether they feel free to use Stop Work Authority during any work activity, 93 percent of Chevron refinery workers responded favorably. The overall results for the process safety survey exceeded the survey taker’s benchmark for North American refineries.

Thomas Schubert, a shift team leader at the refinery, told the Richmond City Council at a public hearing last summer: “I feel that Chevron is a world-class leader in safety. Not only do I work at Chevron but my son works at Chevron as well,” he said. “I know that I can use my Stop Work Authority any time I think there is something not safe there, and I have the full support of my upper management to do so.”

Whatever disagreements we may have with particular findings in the final CSB report, there should be no doubt about our commitment to work cooperatively with the CSB and other oversight agencies on the shared goal of effective and efficient regulation designed to enhance the safety and reliability of refinery operations across the entire industry.