Chevron reports that a corroded pipe segment that is the focus of an investigation into the August fire at the company’s refinery in Richmond (CA) had not been included in a prior inspection and may have been unusually susceptible to corrosion, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Chevron and government officials are still investigating the cause of the fire at the 245,000 barrel-a-day refinery that sent black smoke billowing over the San Francisco Bay and area residents to hospital emergency rooms. The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board had said earlier that the walls of a pipe leading from the refinery’s crude distillation unit had corroded by 80%, making it at some segments as thin as a penny and likely to leak flammable material.
Chevron said Tuesday the pipe had an unusually low silicon content, making it vulnerable to corrosion in high temperatures because of a process called sulfadation. The company didn’t check a 5-foot segment of the pipe during a routine inspection in November despite having removed a nearby pipe that showed signs of corrosion.
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