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Refinery fire adds another safety incident to Chevron's record

Although the oil and gas industry has always involved a higher than average risk of accidents, Chevron has generally had a better safety record than other companies. Several serious accidents in the last few years have undermined that record. Oil and gas field accidents can result in serious injuries and death.

Chevron facilities suffered several major incidents in the last few years. June 2011 saw two fatal accidents. A refinery explosion in the UK killed four workers and a California employee fell into a deadly sinkhole. A natural gas rig on Nigeria's coast burst into flames after a blowout. Two workers died and the fire burned for a month and a half.

Another accident hit closer to home just several weeks ago. A hydrocarbon leak in a California refinery caused another fire. A dozen workers barely got out of the area but the fire still caused severe breathing difficulties for at least 9,000 people.

As David Baker from My San Antonio wrote, these incidents were unrelated to one another, occurring in separate divisions of Chevron's vast international business.

Rather, the incidents serve as a reminder that the oil and gas industry can never be completely safe. Fossil fuels are inherently volatile and the process of reaching and refining these materials necessarily involves dangerous heavy machinery. The combination of these forces will always be risky and catastrophic incidents can occur at even the safest oil facility.

Source: My San Antonio, "Chevron's safety record hit by accidents," David R. Baker, Aug. 19, 2012

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