A fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond in August 2012 raised public questions and concerns about refinery safety and emergency response in California. Following a directive from the Governor’s July 2013 report on “Improving Public and Worker Safety at Oil Refineries,” CalEPA formed an Interagency Task Force on Refinery Safety in August 2013. The Task Force membership includes ten state agencies, U.S. EPA, and local agencies from areas of the state that contain refineries. They will work collaboratively to achieve the highest possible level of safety for refinery workers and local communities, and prepare for and effectively respond to emergencies if they occur.
The Interagency Refinery Task Force held a Refinery Safety Forum in Torrance on April 23, 2018. It focused on the California Air Resources Board and the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association’s “Refinery Emergency Air Monitoring Assessment Report (REAMAR) – Objective Two,” the efforts of the South Coast Air Quality Management District related to the REAMAR, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s “Analysis of Refinery Chemical Emissions and Health Effects,” and CalEPA’s Regulated Site Portal. To learn more, read the Refinery Safety Forum presentations and watch the video.
Beginning in 2018, two of the task force’s meetings each year will be public meetings, pursuant to Assembly Bill 1649 (Muratsuchi, 2017).
New Reports: Air Monitoring
In September 2017, the state issued two reports on improving air monitoring at refineries and in surrounding communities, in support of Task Force goals. A press release, issued on Sept. 28, 2017, provides additional summary information.
- Refinery Emergency Air Monitoring Assessment Report (PDF) — This draft report provides recommendations to improve emergency and routine air monitoring, and to better inform surrounding communities during incidents that result in increases in pollution or toxic releases. It was produced by the California Air Resources Board and the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, in conjunction with the Interagency Refinery Task Force. This follows a 2015 report (PDF) on Objective 1: Delineation of Existing Capabilities (PDF). Additional information is available on the CARB’s Refinery Air Monitoring website.
- Analysis of Refinery Chemical Emissions and Health Effects (PDF) – This addendum to the air monitoring report lists chemicals emitted from refineries and prioritizes them based on their emission levels and toxicity. This analysis can be used to inform discussions on which chemicals to monitor. It was produced by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in conjunction with the Interagency Refinery Task Force.
Regulatory Changes: Safety and Prevention
New regulations to strengthen workplace and environmental safety at oil refineries across the state were approved by the Office of Administrative Law in July and August 2017. The regulations implement key recommendations of the Governor’s Interagency Working Group on Refinery Safety, and are the result of a multi-year effort, including extensive public input and consultation with workers, industry, NGOs, local agencies, and communities. The regulations were developed by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA).
- August 2017 – Final Approved Amendments to the California Accidental Release Prevention (CalARP) Program 4 Regulations for Petroleum Refineries
- July 2017 – Final Approved Process Safety Management Regulations for Petroleum Refineries
- Fact Sheet: Regulatory Changes to Improve Oil Refinery Safety
- Cost-Benefit Analysis of Proposed California Oil and Gas Refinery Regulations
- The Department of Industrial Relations commissioned this study to assess the impacts of the proposed California Process Safety Management and California Accidental Release Prevention safety and prevention amendments as part of the regulatory process. The costs and benefits are addressed in four categories: the costs to industry (to implement the regulation), the costs to society (pass-through of certain industry costs), benefits to industry, and benefits to society.
Proposed Regulatory Changes: Emergency Response
The California Office of Emergency Services is proposing additional regulatory amendments to implement recommendations of the Governor’s Interagency Working Group on Refinery Safety.
- May 2016 – Proposed Pre-Regulatory Amendments for CalARP Program 4 Refinery Emergency Preparedness & Response
- May 2016 – Proposed Area Plan Pre-Regulatory Amendments for Refinery Emergency Preparedness & Response