August Chevron Fire: The Pipeline May Have Been Punctured by Firefighters

On August 6, 2012 many Richmond residents were told to not leave their homes and to close all doors in windows for fear of exposure the toxic chemicals being exposed from the Chevron's oil refinery fire that day. Flames were blazing and the sky was covered in black smoke from the explosion, and despite the fact that there were no fatalities from the incident there were still many people exposed to the chemicals as well as some who received minor injuries and burns. An estimated 15,000 individuals in the community were noted to have gone to the hospital for respiratory treatment after the fire. According to the initial investigations, the explosion and fire were caused by a leak in the diesel line, a leak that was continuing to grow in the No. 4 Crude Unit of the Richmond Refinery.

Though the incident occurred months ago, investigations have continued, with officials from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board hoping to get to the bottom of the explosion. What they have discovered is that the pipeline that was originally believed to be leaking was 40 years old and was already known to be very weak from the constant sulfur exposure from the plant and from the crude oil continually making its way through the pipes. What the officials initially discovered was that the day of the incident, a small hole had developed in the pipeline that continued to grow with the blazing fire.

After further investigations they are coming to the conclusion that the hole may have actually been caused by the firefighters reporting on the scene when they tore away the insulation from the pipeline in response to the initial fire. Daniel Horowitz, the director of the Chemical Safety Board claims hat they believe the firefighters may have in some way accelerated the leak resulting in a more damaging explosion. At this point while they believe the firefighter's damage was not helpful for the leak itself, they are still unsure as to what because the initial fire sparks.

The investigation is still pending but one factor that Horowitz emphasizes is the fact that regardless of the firefighters possibly making the explosion ignite faster, there is still the primary concern of the refinery not addressing the issue of the rotting pipeline in the first place. This incident would have been less likely to occur had the refinery taken precautions to address the issue and close down the crude unit in order to fix the leak. In the event that you or a loved one were a victim from this fire or you have been made ill from the exposure in your community, contact Arnold & Itkin today for the trusted personal injury attorney you deserve. We will help you fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries, contact us today!


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