Processing Magazine

US Chemical Safety Board rejects new refinery safety rules

January 17, 2014

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The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has decided that current refinery safety practices in California do not need any changes, claiming that the proposed plan was too ambitious and would not result in immediate improvements in refinery safety.

The board ruled that the proposed reforms need further consideration and, by a majority of two to one, rejected the plan, which was drawn up after the 2012 Chevron refinery fire in Richmond. The reforms were brought to the table by the chairman of the Chemical Safety Board, Rafael Moure-Eraso, who claimed that current safety practices were inefficient and did little to protect the industry, local communities and the environment. However, the remaining two members of the board seemed unconvinced by the advantages of the new model.

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Moure-Eraso stated that at present Californian refineries were regulated through enforcement and a fine-based method, whereas in Europe the approach was radically different and more effective. European refineries have to continuously prove that they are taking all measures to cut the risk of incidents and fire, the San Francisco Gate reported.

Although industry representatives and lobbying groups agreed that more could be done to improve safety at refineries, they stated that the European model was not applicable to the reality of the U.S. industry. However, they confirmed their willingness to take part in discussions regarding changes to safety practices.