San Francisco Chronicle

Chevron ignored potentially life-threatening dangers to workers at its Richmond refinery and should pay a record fine of nearly $1 million stemming from the fire there in August, state regulators said Wednesday.

"Our investigators found willful violations in Chevron's response before, during and after the fire," said Ellen Widess, head of the state agency that enforces workplace safety, Cal/OSHA.

A key finding in the state's six-month probe, officials say, is that Chevron disregarded the risk of corrosion to pipes such as the one that failed at the refinery on Aug. 6. Twenty workers were nearby and narrowly escaped injury when a leaking cloud of hydrocarbon vapor from a corroded line ignited.

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