Chevron’s Alternative Of Metallic In Richmond Refinery Fix Questioned

The choice of metal for brand new pipes at the hearth-broken Chevron oil refinery in Richmond might complicate restoration of the plant to full fuel production.

A Chevron consultant mentioned Monday that the gasoline-making plant will not restore gear damaged within the Aug. 6 fireplace till regulators’ security issues are resolved about the company’s pick of a metallic alloy referred to as “9 chromium.”

Chevron will not proceed till all of the safety issues have been “thoroughly mentioned” with regulators, Barbara Smith, a Chevron refinery senior enterprise manager, told the Bay Space’s air pollution board Monday at its assembly in San Francisco.

Chevron has touted the “9 chromium alloy” as an improve over the carbon steel pipe that broke a minimum of partially due to corrosion when uncovered to excessive sulfur crude.

The smoke from the fireplace despatched 15,000 people to native hospitals with complaints of respiration issue, throat irritation and complications.

Chevron has mentioned it plans to finish refinery repairs in the first quarter of 2013.

The federal Chemical Security Board has questions about the selections and wants answers.

In a letter sent Saturday to Richmond officials, the federal security company demanded Chevron launch documents by Dec. 7 to clarify why it picked the chromium alloy over a stainless steel pipe touted by the American Petroleum Institute as resistant to sulfur-induced corrosion.

“The issue in predicting corrosion rates underscores the necessity for selecting the safest materials of building, since inspections primarily based on predictable corrosion charges might not show to be dependable,” Rafael Moure Eraso, chairman of the federal safety board, wrote.

He also said Washington state security investigators imagine that a February fireplace at a BP refinery close to Cherry Point was associated to corrosion in pipe made of “9 chromium.”

“Images of the piping failure at BP,” Moure Eraso said, “show a hanging resemblance to the failure at Chevron.”

In the air board meeting in San Francisco, Smith, the Chevron consultant, stated that refiners chosen the chrome alloy as one of the best all-round material.

Whereas stainless steel is thought to be effective in resisting corrosion related to sulfur, the steel can grow to be brittle at high temperatures, she mentioned.

Chevron is in search of permits from the city of Richmond to repair moderately than exchange the refiner unit broken by the fireplace.

Air pollution board directors stated it is the duty of the city of Richmond — not the air board — to make the decision on the metallic to go into the pipes.

The Richmond City Council is scheduled to debate the Chevron restore plan at the council’s assembly at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at town Council chamber at Civic Middle Plaza and Macdonald Avenue.

Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Comply with him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.

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