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Chevron Says Ruptured Pipe Did Not Cause Morning Refinery Fire In Richmond

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Chevron Fire Wednesday Morning

(CBS SF)

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RICHMOND (CBS SF) — Chevron is disputing an assessment by fire officials that a burst crude oil processing pipeline at its Richmond refinery led to a small fire there early Wednesday morning.

A three-quarter-inch pipe in a fluid catalytic converter unit near the back of the refinery ruptured, leaking heavy crude oil that ignited a fire around 2:10 a.m., Richmond fire Chief Michael Banks said.

Both Chevron and Richmond fire crews quickly attacked the fire and were able to prevent it from spreading beyond the processing unit, Banks said. The blaze was knocked down around 3 a.m., he said.

Banks said the pipeline was shut down because oil was still spewing from it after the fire was extinguished.

Chevron spokeswoman Melissa Ritchie said in a statement this morning that the company is investigating what caused the fire but that “there is no indication that the leak occurred from a pipe or a processing line.”

The spokeswoman was not immediately available by phone to comment on the fire.

Contra Costa Health Services was notified of the fire but no community alert or shelter-in-place order was issued because the blaze did not pose a danger to neighboring residents, according to Chevron and fire officials.

“Because of the quick response and quick extinguishment of the fire, smoke never traveled offsite and all of the runoff was contained within Chevron’s containment system,” Banks said.

Another small fire broke out at the refinery in May and was quickly put out.

In August 2012, a pipe in a crude oil processing unit at the refinery burst, leaking hydrocarbon and causing an explosion and massive fire that sent about 15,000 people to hospitals with related illnesses. More than a dozen workers at the refinery narrowly escaped the blaze.

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