RICHMOND -- U.S. Chemical Safety Board inspectors are scheduled to brief the City Council and public Tuesday on the status of their probe into the Aug. 6 fire at the local Chevron refinery.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin added the presentation to the council calendar. McLaughlin expects CSB officials to "let us know where the investigation is currently at, what has been revealed thus far, and what next steps are being undertaken to fully understand the root cause of the fire," McLaughlin wrote in her agenda report.
The meeting will be the first CSB presentation since Chevron released a 30-day report Wednesday revealing there was a "flash fire" about 10 minutes before an 8-inch pipe funneling diesel oil failed, triggering the massive blaze.
Chevron's report also raised questions about the composition of a white cloud that formed minutes before the large fire, suggesting that the cloud was mostly steam rather than a combustible vapor cloud, as previous CSB statements indicated.
The Aug. 6 fire injured six workers and sent more than 15,000 people to area hospitals for minor respiratory discomforts, and preceded a fuel price spike. Production at the refinery remains reduced as the crude-processing unit where the fire occurred is offline, Chevron officials have said.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency does not issue fines but does produce reports and recommendations that support regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), both of which are also part of the joint investigation into the fire.
At least five agencies, including the Chemical Safety Board, Environmental Protection Agency and the state Division Occupational Safety and Health, are conducting a joint probe into the Aug. 6 fire.
Councilman Tom Butt said the investigation is an opportunity for the city and refinery to work together on new safety agreements.
"The city is processing building permits for repair of the crude unit ... and we will expect Chevron to incorporate into the project whatever measures are necessary to run the unit safely," Butt said. "The recommendations from CSB should be a great help."
Chevron will provide updates every 30 days as the investigation continues, per city and county regulations.
Another public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium, where investigators and local officials will update the public and take questions.
What: Richmond City Council meeting
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Community Services Building, 440 Civic Center Plaza