Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chevron Puts Workers’ Lives In Danger at Richmond Refinery

Allows Plant to Run As Leak Fixed, Workers Barely Escape Ignited Vapor Cloud

Investigators are asking why Chevron allowed its Richmond, California refinery to continue to operate as its employees worked on a pipe leak that resulted in a fire, sending over 1,000 local citizens to the hospital.

According to this San Francisco Chronicle story, the workers – repairing the leak -- barely escaped a vapor cloud that ignited.

They also are asking why an 8-inch carbon steel pipe that failed wasn’t replaced in November during a round of maintenance.

Why? Because Chevron cares only about the bottom line, and if not replacing a pipe saves the company money, then why replace the pipe?

As in Nigeria and Ecuador, the only people who could be harmed in Richmond are mostly poor people of color.

In Nigeria, Chevron refused to evacuate workers from an oil rig that exploded and killed two workers. Chevron had no boats to rescue the workers who jumped into the water. Local fisherman had to do that.  See here.

In Ecuador, Chevron refuses to pay a $19 billion judgment for massive oil contamination of the rainforest, even though the company agreed to abide by the findings of an Ecuador court, when a U.S. judge sent the case to the South American country at Chevron’s request in 2002.

The damage award would be used to clean up its pollution that continues to leech into underground drinking water. It also would provide health care facilities and clean drinking water for the indigenous groups and other people living near the contamination.

And, then there’s this:  In its last earnings statement, Chevron reported $21 billion in surplus cash. 

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