Chevron under investigation

Oil company faces criminal charges for violating federal court order


In the wake of the Aug. 6 fire that destroyed part of Chevron’s Richmond oil refinery (pictured), federal investigators have opened a criminal investigation of Chevron for allegedly violating a federal court order.

Air-quality officials charge Chevron used a pipe to detour hydrocarbon gases past monitoring equipment to be burned off without reporting how much was introduced to the atmosphere, according to Investigators will attempt to determine who at Chevron was aware of the pipe and whether they were using it to intentionally deceive air-pollution regulators. The investigation comes two years after Bay Area Air Quality Management District inspectors originally discovered the pipe and ordered it removed.

In 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency settled a lawsuit with Chevron in which the oil company agreed to limit flaring gases and report each instance of flaring. The air-quality district determined Chevron used the bypass pipe 27 times from April 2005 to August 2009.