The only crude distillation unit of Chevron Corp’s refinery in Richmond, California is facing up to 6 months of shutdown after a fire broke out there last week.
The investigators and Chevron itself have refused to provide any timeframe for resuming the plant’s full operations at California’s second largest plant following the fire last week in its crude unit. Apparently, investigators have discovered severe damage in the pipe racks, heater and cooling towers.
According to reports Chevron submitted to the pollution regulators last week, the unit is expected to be shut down for several months, following the blaze at a pump which leaked a diesel-like substance. Meanwhile, a spokesperson from Chevron has insisted that there is only one crude oil unit at their plant and it was kept shuttered while the other parts of the plant operated.
Chevron is still undecided whether to continue operating its secondary units that are running on feedstock.
A small leak in the pipe was readily found by engineers of Chevron — with the alert as something that may have just saved the Contra Costa Country from numerous casualties.
“It was good they found the leak early … the sooner you find the (leak) and ignition point, the less fuel there is to burn at the ignition point.”
What the public and the investigators want to examine is why did Chevron not replace the part of the old pipeline that leaked when it was discovered last year during a maintenance check of the plant.
“The crude unit is still off-limits because of safety concerns”, where probes are conducted so as to determine the exact cause of the fire, although corrosion is highly suspected as the cause of the leak.
And as the plant is only producing gasoline at half of its normal capacity, the decreased output of the refinery has negatively affected the gas and energy prices as it increased from the average cost per gallon of USD 3.86 to USD 4.07.