RICHMOND -- City officials have scheduled a public meeting for Wednesday night to talk about specifications for rebuilding the Chevron refinery crude unit that caught fire after a pipe failure Aug. 6.

The meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. in the City Council chamber, will include discussions on metals that will be used in the repair of failed pipes, updates on the investigations into the fire and other plans.

Among the agencies expected to be represented at the meeting are Contra Costa County, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Residents are encouraged to attend and provide feedback.

The meeting was prompted by the Dec. 4 council meeting, when city officials, residents and watchdog groups raised concerns that staff had already issued some permits with little discussion or oversight. The council voted to require City Manager Bill Lindsay to hold a public meeting this month to share information and encourage public feedback.

The Aug. 6 fire occurred when a 5-foot-long section of 8-inch carbon steel pipe carrying high-temperature gas oil sprung a leak, releasing hydrocarbons that soon ignited. The fire resulted in injuries to several workers and sent thousands of residents to hospitals in the area to seek treatment. Chevron has reported that the leak resulted from accelerated sulfidation corrosion, exacerbated by low silicon content in the carbon steel.


Advertisement

The Chemical Safety Board is expected to release its findings into the fire's cause early next year.

Councilman Tom Butt, who last month criticized the permitting process as moving too fast, said the meeting should be a good opportunity to learn and affect the process.

"Things are better now," Butt said. "The city is doing more to make sure the public understands the process."

As part of its permit application, Chevron provided the city a detailed risk analysis regarding the selection of pipe material for the repair on Dec. 12.

The city has retained two metallurgical specialists to evaluate Chevron's plans, which call for using 9 Chrome alloy as piping material in the unit, which ferries high-temperature, sulfur-containing fuels.

Environmental watchdog groups have criticized the plan to use 9 Chrome alloy, saying more durable metals are available and that Chevron is not in compliance with a city resolution passed last month calling on the refinery to use only the "best available technology" in rebuilding the burned unit.

Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726 or rrogers@bayareanewsgroup.com, and follow Twitter.com/roberthrogers.

IF YOU GO
What: Public meeting to discuss rebuilding of Chevron refinery crude unit
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: City Council chamber, 440 Civic Center Plaza