The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) on Monday recommended that refineries in California adopt new safety practices in the wake of a process unit fire that took place at Chevron’s Richmond facility last year. In a draft report on the incident, the CSB urged the state to replace what it calls a “patchwork of largely reactive and activity-based regulations” with a new set of standards that have been implemented in the U.K., Norway and Australia and in the U.S. nuclear and aeronautics industries. The “safety case” regime would require refiners to submit written reports to an independent regulator demonstrating how they are reducing risk to a level “as low as reasonably practicable,” or ALARP.
The CSB criticized OSHA’s Process Safety Management standard, commenting that it has remained stagnant since it was implemented in 1992 and has no requirement to reduce risks or prevent catastrophic accidents. The board also asserted that under the EPA’s Risk Management Program, the EPA does not assess the effectiveness of any company’s risk management plan, rendering such a plan an “activity-based” practice.
It remains to be seen whether or not the state will adopt the safety case regime. According to its website, approximately 66% of the CSB’s recommendations have been closed with an acceptable action.