Investigators found extensive damage in the cooling towers, pipe racks and heating tower from last week's fire, according to industry research firm IIR Energy in a report that's gloomier than the initial indications. No word on when full operations will be restored at the 245,000-barrel-per-day Richmond facility. Retail prices have already increased, and analysts expect further hikes in the coming days. (Reuters). Meanwhile, investigators continue to look into the cause of the blaze. From AP:
Investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board told The Associated Press on Saturday that the November inspection led Chevron to replace an old pipe connected to the one that failed Monday. The fire exploded when a vapor cloud ignited, endangering more than a dozen workers in the immediate vicinity. The resulting blaze sent up thick, black smoke and caused thousands to seek medical attention for related health issues in one of the most serious U.S. refinery fires in recent years.
The pipe that failed Monday dated back to the 1970s, investigators said, but it is still unclear whether the thickness testing conducted by Chevron in its last major inspections noted corrosion in that specific, 8-inch pipe. However, investigators said a 12-inch pipe connected to the one that leaked Monday was found to be corroded, and was replaced after the November "turnaround," an industry term for when a refinery unit is taken off-line so all the lines can be inspected.