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  Chevron Permit Update
December 15, 2012

From Bill Lindsay:

Mayor and City Councilmembers:

As you know, the City of Richmond has the responsibility for issuing construction permits for the repair of the Chevron Refinery crude unit in accordance with applicable building and fire codes.  As you also know, during the plan check process for the issuance of such construction permits, staff concluded, after extensive consultation with technical experts, that there needed to be a more detailed risk analysis before a definitive conclusion could be reached regarding the choice of pipe material in applying these codes.  There are several options in the code for pipe material that must be evaluated by permitting officials.
To move the permit process forward, but with the primary interest of public safety, staff initiated the following process:

  • As part of their permit application, Chevron was asked to prepare a detailed, risk analysis regarding the selection of pipe material for the repair.  This analysis was provided to the City on Wednesday, December 12th and is attached to this e-mail.  (Material Selection for Repair of Damaged Process Piping in High-Temperature Sulfidation Service in the No. 4 Crude Unit).  Since Thursday, December 13th, the report has also been available at www.ci.richmond.ca.us/chevronrefineryfire2012
  • The Chevron analysis has been submitted to the City’s metallurgical consultant, Mr. Jim McLaughlin, for evaluation.  Mr. McLaughlin expects to provide a written summary of his evaluation by the end of the day on Monday, December 17th.  We will advise you as soon as possible after we receive this evaluation.
  • All agencies that have been working on the investigation of the August 6th refinery fire are being specifically contacted to ask for their review of the pipe material selection.  These agencies include Contra Costa County, the Chemical Safety Board, Cal-OSHA, Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • The City has also retained Mr. David Hendrix, a metallurgical engineering consultant, to provide a peer review of the analyses.

Until all this work is completed, City staff has determined not to issue building permits for portions of the repair for damaged process piping in high-temperature sulfidation service in the No. 4 Crude Unit.
At its meeting of December 4th, the City Council stressed the importance of transparency in the permitting process, and directed staff to conduct a public meeting to provide information on the factors leading to a decision concerning pipe material before permits were granted for damaged process piping.  This meeting has now been scheduled as follows:
Date:            Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Time:            6:30 PM
Location:       Richmond City Council Chambers
440 Civic Center Plaza
Richmond, California 94804

We will continue to provide material as it becomes available to us.  Please also check the City’s website at www.ci.richmond.ca.us/chevronrefineryfire2012.  In the meantime, Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or require any additional information.


Bill Lindsay


Bill Lindsay
City Manager
City of Richmond
(510) 620-6512


Richmond Confidential

Chevron submits technical analysis on piping material

By Stephen HobbsPosted December 14, 2012 9:09 am
Chevron has submitted a technical analysis to move forward with the rebuilding of the No. 4 crude unit at the Richmond refinery, proposing to the use the nine-chrome alloy that has been reviewed skeptically by a federal agency, city officials and members of the public.
The 55-page report, submitted to the city’s planning division on Wednesday, says Chevron based its decision to use nine-chrome alloy on the “expert judgment” of its refinery materials engineer.
The report, prepared by Edwin H. Niccolls, a senior consulting materials engineer, with assistance from Barbara Smith, the refinery’s senior business manager, also directly addressed the skepticism about the choice of piping.
“While certain members of the public and the Chemical Safety Board have suggested 300-series stainless steel (“300 SS”) as an alternative material based on its increased resistance to sulfidation corrosion, the use of the 300 SS would introduce a new damage mechanism not present with nine-chrome alloy (9Cr) that is more difficult to monitor and inspect than sulfidation corrosion,” the report stated.
Once the planning division receives the report, City Manager Bill Lindsay said, he will forward it to the CSB and other agencies to get their input, while also consulting the city’s metallurgy consultant, Jim McLaughlin, and peer reviewer, David Hendrix.
At the City Council meeting on Dec. 4, Lindsay said he was expecting the technical analysis from Chevron to come soon.
At the meeting it was also announced by Mayor McLaughlin that the Chemical Safety Board would be pushing back its own proposed report to mid-January, from mid-December, as was previously planned.
In response, Lindsay said that he would not wait for the CSB to releasing its findings before issuing a permit to rebuild the piping in the No. 4 crude unit.
As of Dec. 7, more than 40 permits have been issued by the city to Chevron for the repair of the No. 4 crude unit and Cat Cooling Tower.
At the Dec. 4 meeting, Vice Mayor Jim Rogers and Councilmember Tom Butt asked for the public to be able to voice their opinion in a meeting with the City Manager, before the permits to replace the piping were approved.
“Since there is substantial community interest in it, it seems to me that it would be appropriate that there would be a hearing from the public prior to making the decision,” Rogers said.
Lindsay said after the meeting, and more recently, that he plans on going about with the process of bringing the issue up to the public. Butt said Thursday that he expects the public’s input to be heard as planned.