Chevron to pay $2M for fire at Richmond, Calif., refinery

Aug. 6, 2013 at 1:30 AM

MARTINEZ, Calif., Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Chevron agreed to pay $2 million in fines and restitution Monday for a refinery fire that sent smoke over much of the San Francisco Bay area last year.

A lawyer for the company entered no contest pleas to six misdemeanor charges at a hearing in Martinez, Calif., the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The company also agreed to a 3 1/2 year probation that will include additional oversight by California agencies of its refinery in Richmond.

Investigators say the fire on Aug. 6, 2012, was caused by a faulty pipe that should have been replaced. The pipe leaked and burst, setting off a fire that came close to killing 19 employees.

Thousands of people in the area came to hospitals reporting trouble breathing because of the plume of smoke.

Deputy Contra Costa County District Attorney Steve Moawad said the $2 million includes a fine of $1.28 million. Chevron also agreed to pay $145,000 to RichmondBUILD, which trains employees in the impoverished city for jobs in construction and renewable energy, and to reimburse state and local agencies for the cost of the investigation.

Chevron is appealing a $1 million fine imposed by the California workplace safety agency. The company could also face federal fines for violating the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

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