Oil refinery regulation needs to be dramatically reformed to ensure operators in California and the country as a whole implement better safety practices in facilities, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board stated in a draft report, released in relation to the incident at Chevron's Richmond, Calif., refinery last year.
The fire that erupted in the Richmond facility on Aug. 6, 2012, sent thick clouds of smoke into the air and caused 15,000 people to rush to local hospitals suffering breathing problems. Reporting on the incident investigation, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board stated that California has made progress in refinery operations oversight but the current regulatory regime was not enough locally or on a national scale.
Following the Chevron refinery incident, California's oil refinery industry has made positive developments as far as safety is concerned and this puts the state in a position to create a safety model for the rest of the nation, the report pointed out. On federal level, very little has changed over the past decade and this is evident from the series of deadly incidents, including the most devastating one in BP's Texas City refinery that killed 15 people, the Chemical Safety Board said.
The main criticism in the report was that the system of regulation was too static and mostly reactive, while an effective policy should be proactive, performance-based and focused on prevention, the report concluded.