Public Questions 'Corroded' Chevron Pipe

Chevron spokeswoman Heather Kulp said the root cause of the pipe leak was high temperature sulfidation corrosion.

By Jodi Hernandez
|  Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012  |  Updated 7:47 AM PDT
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At a packed public meeting in Richmond tonight,  the community accused Chevron of knowingly endangering their health. Monte Francis reports. Monte Francis reports.

At a packed public meeting in Richmond tonight, the community accused Chevron of knowingly endangering their health. Monte Francis reports. Monte Francis reports.

About 200 people gathered Monday night to listen to a panel of  state, local and federal officials and a representative of the Chevron  Richmond refinery discuss why a five-foot section of a 200-foot fuel pipeline  became corroded and breached on Aug. 6 causing a devastating fire and  pollution leakage that sickened 15,000 people.

"It's not an accident. It's a disaster," said Frank Cambra, a  former design and study contractor for Chevron at the Richmond refinery, one  of a dozen speakers who lined up to vent before the panel. "It's a pattern by  Chevron to put profit motive over public safety."

Cambra said in an interview that Chevron may have used the wrong  material in its blended steel pipe, which was unable to sustain hydrogen  sulfide that contaminates so-called sour crude oil the company sent through  the Richmond pipeline.

Chevron should be using sweet crude, which is freer of  contaminates than sour crude and causes far less corrosion in metal pipes, he  said.

Chevron spokeswoman Heather Kulp said the root cause of the pipe  leak was high temperature sulfidation corrosion from the fuel moving within  the five-foot segment of the refinery's eight-inch round 200-foot long carbon  steel pipe.

That segment of the steel pipe failed due to low silicone content  inside, she said. The problem is that sulfidation of the pipe may occur even  when a pipe is being monitored, she added.

Chevron did monitor 19 different parts of the pipe, starting in  November 2011. However, Kulp admitted that Chevron's inspection had missed  the five-foot section where the breach happened.

"It doesn't appear that this was effectively recognized or  understood," Kulp said.
 

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