Companies have a responsibility to make sure that the properties it owns are safe and well-maintained. This responsibility is especially great at properties that could be dangerous to others. In one recent case, Chevron has agreed to pay $2 million in fines and restitution after a fire at a refinery in California.
The refinery fire occurred in August 2012. Thousands of people went to the hospital. Many of those people complained of respiratory distress after the plume of black smoke rose over the refinery and nearby residential areas.
Both the company investigators and government regulators determined that the fire could be traced to corrosion in a 40-year-old pipe. The pipe had apparently been weakened by sulfur in the crude oil that was pumped through it. A small leak resulted in a small flash fire that was put out. Later, a larger leak released more flammable gas and created the larger fire.
The $2 million in fines and fees came along with six charges filed by the California Attorney General's office and the local district attorney's office. The charges included failing to correct deficiencies in equipment and failing to use equipment to protect employees from harm. Chevron pleaded no contest to those charges.
The city where the refinery is located is also suing the company. The lawsuit, filed recently, claims the pipe leak was the result of years of neglect and indifference to inspection and repairs.
Source: ABC News, "Chevron Agrees to Pay $2M in Calif. Refinery Fire," Associated Press, Aug. 5, 2013
- Our law firm represents people who have been injured or killed in accidents in Los Angeles and Southern California. For more information, visit our industrial accidents page.