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Feds release refinery fire investigation video

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POSTED April 19, 2013 9:40 p.m.

RICHMOND (AP) — Federal investigators released an animated video on Friday showing the events that led to a massive fire at Chevron's Richmond refinery last August, providing the clearest picture yet of the accident.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board released the video ( ) ahead of a public meeting in Richmond where it will be shown on Friday evening.

The video shows how Chevron's decision not to shut down production after a small pipe leak was detected led to a series of bad decisions that made the leak worse. In one scene, a company firefighter strikes the pipe with a pike pole while trying to help colleagues pinpoint the leak.

A vapor cloud eventually engulfed 19 employees before the fire ignited. The workers escaped serious injury, but the cloud and fire created respiratory problems among residents for days.

Both Chevron and government investigations have found that corrosion in the pipe caused the leak, and that Chevron failed to replace the 1970s-era pipe despite numerous warnings from its own inspectors.

But the oil company issued a statement on Friday objecting to the video's release. Chevron said that by depicting the actions of specific workers it "has the effect, surely not intended, of demeaning the challenges faced by the responding personnel. "

The company also claims the eight-minute video contains inaccuracies, but did not specify what they were.

The federal board routinely creations animated reenactments of incidents it investigates.


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