The federal chemical safety board announced fire in hydrocracking unit of Chevron refinery in California on 6th August 2012. The cause of the leakage was old pipes in the refinery which got exploded due to an increase in temperature. The company should have closed the operation but in the hap-hazard situation, managers took the wrong step and it lead to a fire. The vapour evaporated from the fire covered the entire region affected hundreds of people.
Aim of the report is to reflect on the incident that occurred on 6th August 2012 in Chevron Refinery,Richmond California.An explosion at 2 pm in the refinery was recorded by the employees of the refinery. The fire spewed black smoke in the entire region including neighbouring places. The effect of the smoke was so strong that it affected 600 nearby residents. They suffered from the symptom of nausea, burning sensation in the throat and metallic taste in their mouth. They were immediately taken to the hospital by the concerning authorities.
The incident occurred in the hydrocracking unit of the refinery which converts gas into gasoline. The explosion started due to technical and management failures. When the leak appeared in the refinery, managers of the organization did not understand the cause and took the certain decision that increased the fire into dangerous bombardment. Employees instead of shutting down the operation poured oil which increased the temperature to 600 degrees (Amyotte, Lupien& Khan, 2017). The oil continued to flow in the pipe and due to high temperature, the pipe broke down resulting in the toxic flume.
After the incident, the cause of the fire was investigated by the authorities to understand the explosion in the factory. After a thorough investigation, it was found that pipes of the factory were old and were made up of steel which has maximum chances of getting eroded. Besides this, Sulphur in the refinery increased and it was another cause of increasing erosion in the refinery. It was also analyzed that many times, the managers of the company were reported about the unsafe conditions that were prevailing in the company but none of them paid attention to them(Early, 2017).The employees were asking for safer equipment’s and practices but were unheard by the managers. It was due to this fact the gas leak resulted into such a dangerous explosion in which hundreds of people were affected due to the toxic flume that covered the entire region.
The maintenance of refinery was not up to the mark and it could easily be identified from the corroded pipes in the factory which were to be replaced. This incident could have been prevented by constructing the equipment with inherent safety design instead of patching the corroded pipes. It would have saved the refinery from the fire burst. It was very important for the organization to pay attention to the areas where the chances of such incident were higher. A small reluctance of the managers resulted in a huge loss for the refinery and even had environmental ad physical impact on the humans(Abílio Ramos, Droguett, Mosleh, das Chagas Moura & Ramos Martins, 2017). The leak could have been even stopped at the very moment itself by shutting the operation in the unit. But wrong decisions of the employees lead it to a dangerous fire.
The findings from the above case study helped me to understand that when man-made disaster occur the employees must not panic and should take the right step which can stop the leak there itself. I also realized that companies must on timely basis check the entire equipment so that the chances of such occurrence decrease. I also comprehended from the incident that if reports suggest to change some equipment or replace them with the safer ones than the organization must do the needful instead of ignoring them because the cause could have been mitigated there and that time itself. I also recognized that employees must have called the concerned authorities immediately which took a little bit of time. The incident was so dangerous that it talks five and an hour to cease the fire. Since it was the sole responsibility of the refinery which wasn't taken seriously, therefore, chevron refinerystated that it would pay 5 million dollars to the city’s authority(Jain, Reese, Chaudhari, Mentzer&Mannan, 2017). The step was taken to settle the lawsuit which was filed by the city on the refinery because of which they had to suffer. The settlement was done to continue a cooperative relationship back in the city.
It can be concluded from the findings that the leak could have been prevented by taking the right measures at the right time. But irresponsibility of the managers and the wrong step of the employees resulted in a dangerous explosion. It affected the lives of hundreds of people including children. With timely maintenance, this disaster could have been prevented in the refinery. It is thus said that firms need to check the working of the equipment properly and if required they need to replace them with the good ones so that such a disaster does not happen in future.
Amyotte, P., Lupien, C., & Khan, F. (2017). Different hazards, similar causes, same results. Loss Prevention Bulletin, (253).
Early, S. (2017). Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of an American City. Beacon Press.
Abílio Ramos, M., Droguett, E. L., Mosleh, A., das Chagas Moura, M., & Ramos Martins, M. (2017). Revisiting past refinery accidents from a human reliability analysis perspective: The BP Texas City and the Chevron Richmond accidents. The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, 95(12), 2293-2305.
Jain, P., Reese, A. M., Chaudhari, D., Mentzer, R. A., &Mannan, M. S. (2017). Regulatory approaches-Safety case vs US approach: Is there a best solution today?. Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, 46, 154-162.
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