Last month’s explosion at the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond had the East Bay in shock.
One of the questions on peoples’ minds was: how could this happen, and what systems does Chevron have in place to prevent it? A probe into the company’s safety practices is underway. And now, the San Francisco Chronicle has also discovered a federal criminal investigation into a possible cover up of excess pollution being produced by the plant that goes back many years.
KALW’s Ben Trefny spoke with San Francisco Chronicle reporter Jaxon Van Derbeken, who is following the case, about what the investigation found.
VAN DERBEKEN: They found, what was a method by which Chevron could release the gasses and toxic material that builds up in the refining process out a pipe, and it not be measured by a monitor that's required to track – a practice known as flaring which is, they burn off the impurities or the pressure build-up. And they're supposed to keep an eye on that and actually monitor it and sample it, but this particular pipe had been used more than two dozen times to go directly to the top of what would otherwise be a flaring tower, and bypassing, whether intentionally or not, the monitoring equipment inside the tower.
Click the player above to hear the complete interview.