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  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u Jun 19, 2013 11:58 AM Flag

    California considers tripling number of refinery inspectors 41 PHOTOS

    California considers tripling number of refinery inspectors 41 PHOTOS

    Posted on June 19, 2013 at 10:35 am by Houston Chronicle
    41 PHOTOS
    By Jaxon Van Derbeken
    San Francisco Chronicle

    San Francisco — California would nearly triple the number of oil refinery safety inspectors under a proposal on the governor’s desk that backers say would help close regulatory gaps that federal investigators found played a role in the fire at Chevron’s Richmond refinery last year.

    One of more than two dozen budget-related bills — all expected to be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown by the end of the month — would require Cal/OSHA, the state’s main agency overseeing refinery safety, to make refineries in California pay for at least 15 new plant safety inspectors. Four more would be hired with existing funds.

    Currently, the state has just seven inspectors. The added help would bring the total to 26 under the new budget. Still, even a beefed-up staff would likely struggle, critics say, given the huge task of assuring safety at the state’s 15 oil refineries and 1,600 other chemical processing plants.

    “Tripling their staffing means a slightly larger fraction is going toward what is needed for safety — but it’s a step in the right direction,” said Greg Karras, staff scientist for the Communities for a Better Environment advocacy group.

    Federal investigation: Board calls for tougher rules on refineries

    A spokesman for Western States Petroleum Association said the trade group representing California’s major oil refineries “stands ready to work” with Cal/OSHA, the governor and the Legislature “to ensure that there continues to be a robust and well-trained” refinery safety effort.

    In an interim report in April, federal investigators blamed the Aug. 6 fire — caused by the rupture of a corroded pipe and which sent 15,000 people to seek treatment for breathing problems — on weak state oversight that left Chevron free to simply monitor rather than eliminate corrosion risks at its crude oil unit.

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