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December 19, 2013

EPA: Chevron violated fed law at Richmond refinery
Associated Press
Posted:   12/18/2013 07:25:18 AM PST | Updated:   a day ago

Delated Stories

RICHMOND -- Chevron Corp. failed to maintain equipment at a California refinery and has not responded adequately to multiple airborne chemical releases, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday.
The EPA filed a formal notice against Chevron finding 62 violations of federal environmental law after an investigation spurred by the Aug. 6, 2012 fire.
Regulators determined the blaze was caused by the failure of a corroded, 1970s-era pipe that released a massive gas cloud and sent thousands of people to hospitals seeking medical attention.
The EPA called Chevron's risk management at the Richmond facility a "pervasive failure" and warned it could pursue criminal charges or fines if the company fails to address the violations.
The Chevron refinery and storage tanks are seen from Crescent Avenue in Point Richmond on Aug. 9, 2012.
The Chevron refinery and storage tanks are seen from Crescent Avenue in Point Richmond on Aug. 9, 2012. (Jane Tyska/Staff file)
Chevron spokeswoman Melissa Ritchie said the company is working with EPA and other agencies to remedy issues identified in investigations by the government and the company.
"In Richmond, a full, comprehensive inspection of the refinery is ongoing," Ritchie said. "To date, we have inspected thousands of individual piping components and are replacing them as necessary based on the results of these inspections."
Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's regional administrator, said investigators determined Chevron's culture does not place great enough emphasis on safety. He said the company failed to verify that its own risk management plan was being used by refinery staff.
"The reward system is focused on the number of running hours of the facilities, and how that affected bonuses and performance," Blumenfeld said. Chevron "needs to impose one where the risk management plan is put into everyone's job."
The EPA's notice came a day after the U.S. Chemical Safety Board released its draft investigative report of the 2012 fire.
The board also found that Chevron had ignored its own safety recommendations related to the pipe that burst, and it urged California to adopt more active refinery oversight regulations to help reduce such accidents in the future.
The oil company has pleaded no contest to six charges related to the fire, including failing to correct deficiencies in equipment and failing to require the use of certain equipment to protect employees from potential harm. It agreed to $2 million in fines and restitution.
Also, in January the company said it paid about $10 million in connection with nearly 24,000 claims from residents, and as compensation to area hospitals and local government agencies.
Company officials said most of that $10 million went to hospitals for medical exams and treatment immediately following the incident.

Chevron officials say black cloud from morning flare not a risk to Richmond residents
Flaring at Chevron's Richmond refinery Thursday morning caused concern among nearby residents when a large, dark cloud emerged from the facility. 


Legal Issues
Ecuadorians Win the Right to Pursue Chevron in Canada
By Paul M. Barrett December 17, 2013

Protesters in New York demonstrate against Chevron on Oct. 15
Photograph by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Protesters in New York demonstrate against Chevron on Oct. 15
In a big day for high-stakes oil pollution litigation, Chevron (CVX) lost a round in its campaign to squelch a multibillion-dollar contamination verdict in Ecuador. An appellate court in Ontario ruled that a group of Amazonian rain-forest residents may move ahead with a suit seeking to seize Chevron assets in Canada as a way of enforcing their 2011 victory in Ecuador.
Large corporations are trying increasingly aggressive legal tactics to reduce their liability in mass lawsuits. BP (BP), for example, today filed a fraud suit in federal court in New Orleans against a prominent Texas plaintiffs’ attorney in a clash related to tens of thousands of claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Separately, in Canada, the Court of Appeal for Ontario said that the Ecuadorian plaintiffs could try their luck in the Canadian judicial system after Chevron flatly refused to pay up on a $9.5 billion judgment in Ecuador. The Canadian ruling was not a victory on the merits for the rain-forest residents fighting Chevron.
Story: What Chevron and SAC Chief Steve Cohen's Ex-Wife Have in Common
The oil company has vowed never to comply with the 2011 Ecuadorian judgment, which Chevron claims was based on judicial coercion, fabricated evidence, and bribery. In fact, Chevron has sued the main American lawyer for the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, Steven Donziger, accusing him of running what amounts to a racketeering conspiracy designed to shake down the company. He denies those allegations, and a federal judge in New York is expected to rule in coming months. If it wins in New York, Chevron has said it will use that finding to argue to courts in Canada and other countries that the Ecuadorian judgment does not deserve to be enforced—anywhere.
In May, a Canadian trial judge blocked the Ecuadorian residents from proceeding with their enforcement action in Ontario. The appellate court today said the judge had been mistaken, and the Ecuadorians deserve a chance to make their case that they have a right to seize Chevron assets in Canada.
“In these circumstances, the Ecuadorian plaintiffs should have an opportunity to attempt to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment in a court where Chevron will have to respond on the merits,” the appellate court said. “That the plaintiffs in this case may ultimately not succeed on the merits of their recognition and enforcement action, or that they may not succeed in successfully collecting from the judgment debtors against whom they bring this action,” aren’t relevant factors in deciding whether to allow them to present their claims against Chevron, the court added


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