A Call for Action: Need for Improvement After Chevron Refinery Fire

Since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in September 2011, the focus of national security has switched from a stance that a terrorist attack on U.S. soil wasn’t likely to now definitively preparing for future terrorist attacks. This safety and security-first focus has also branched out to many chemical plants and refineries around America. However, according to a recent article on www.ombwatch.org, these plants have a long way to go when it comes to facility security.

Take the recent fire at the Chevron oil refinery located in Richmond, California, in August for example. With 28 refinery fires in 2012 alone, signs point to the fact that drastic safety improvements must be made at our nation’s over 140 refineries and 400 chemical plants. However, an assessment of the Chevron refinery fire seems to indicate that safety and accident prevention was not top of mind.

The company had been cited numerous times at the same site for various safety violations. And despite promises to the local community to improve safety measures, little had been done on that front. And while the refinery fire sent thousands to area hospitals, luckily no one was gravely injured. That might not be the case during the next incident, a sure thing if current policies are not changed.

While the chemical fire could have been a major disaster that affected the plant, its employees, and the entire surrounding community, officials say this time Chevron got lucky. The next disaster might have much worse results. The entire episode shined a light on the need for communities to be involved in and informed in any incident planning and response. Another outcome: overall safety likewise practices need improvement and containment practices need greater assessment.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could use their authority to force these issues, but why should they have to? The question that begs to be asked: what is more important, profit or human life?

For more information about the recent Chevron Refinery fire, visit: http://www.ombwatch.org/node/12198