Chevron USA has agreed to pay $2m in fines and pleaded no contest to the charges of violating California’s labor and health codes stemming from the fire accident at its Richmond refinery in August 2012.

Under the agreement, the company will pay $1.28m in fines and penalties, and $575,000 to Cal/OSHA, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the California Department of Justice.

Charges were filed against the company for failing to correct deficiencies in equipment and continuing to use equipment.

Two violations of the Health and Safety Code were convicted for emitting air contaminants.

Chevron will now be placed on a three and half year probation period to inspect piping components identified as subject to sulfidation corrosion to ensure that every pipe is of sufficient thickness to operate safely.

The plea agreement also requires the company to make substantial changes to its business practices for workers health and safety.

Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark A. Peterson said, "This criminal case achieves our goals of holding Chevron accountable for their conduct, protecting the public, and ensuring a safer work environment at the refinery."

"This historic resolution is also possible due to Chevron’s commitment to do more than what is required by law in order to help ensure nothing like this ever happens again," Peterson added.

A catastrophic pipe rupture on 6 August 2012 at the Richmond, California, refinery, released a flammable fluid used in the hydrocarbon refining process.

Pipe rupture and burning of the vapor created a large plume of unknown and uncountable particulates into the environment.