Editorial: Chevron refinery report exposes national regulatory problem

Screen shot 2014-01-08 at 2.12.29 PM Two new federal reports on the 2012 Chevron refinery explosion and fire reveal a broken regulatory system and a company insufficiently sensitive to the safety of its workers and the community.

The conclusion is clear: Industry cannot be trusted to monitor itself, and government inspectors need more resources and legal authority to protect people and the environment.

Vapor released from a ruptured pipe fueled the inferno at the Richmond facility that nearly killed 19 workers, spewed tons of pollutant-laced black smoke into the air for hours, sent 15,000 seeking medical attention and hospitalized about 20.

It could have been much worse, and Americans are lucky there haven’t been more incidents like it. In 2012 alone, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s latest report, there were 125 significant petroleum refinery incidents nationwide.