Local 5 tackles major refinery conversion under PLA

Local 5 Los Angeles Brothers and Sisters are expected to log about 100,000 hours when they're done transforming a long-shuttered refinery into the largest renewable fuels refinery in the western United States.

The 510-acre Bakersfield Renewable Fuels project in Bakersfield, Calif will be the largest renewable fuels refinery in the Western U.S. once complete.

This transformation is using Camelina seed to produce 210 million gallons of renewable diesel annually. 

Local 5 PLA secures the work

Signing a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) is what guaranteed Local 5's involvement in the project. 

Local 5 members will be performing work such as insulating maritime vessels, exchangers and renewable diesel fuel reactors, with a primary focus on enhancing energy efficiency, safety and structural integrity. 

Pyrogel, mineral wood, calcium and glass insulation are just a few of the diverse range of materials that will be applied to meet the project's unique requirements. 

Contractor collaboration is key

Brand Energy, a major employer and signatory contractor for Local 5, is a key player on the project. 

According to Business Manager Michael Patterson, the partnership between Local 5 and Brand Energy Services has played a big role in the success of the project. 

"In a time when many trades have faced challenges in manning their projects, Brand and Local 5 have consistently provided the necessary manpower," said Patterson.

Bakersfield Local 5Before the project is completed in March 2024, Brand will have contributed well over 100,000 manhours of insulation work.

Making history 

Local 5 is also making history by appointing Sister Claudia Sixtos as the Job Steward.

"Claudia not only holds the distinction of being the first female Steward in Local 5's history but also sits on the International Women's Committee," Patterson said. "Claudia is championing the cause of women in the industry."

Patterson added that she is the right person for the job, and her appointment symbolizes Local 5's commitment to diversity and inclusivity. 

Achieving milestones by prioritizing safety

Local 5 members have worked a demanding schedule, including 10-hour days, six days a week. 

Safety has remained a primary focus throughout the project despite the project's deadline.

To overcome challenges like extreme temperatures and unpredictable weather conditions, Local 5 held pre-task safety meetings and followed strict safety protocols. 

"Their proficiency and skill enabled the completion of three main reactors and 14 exchangers ahead of schedule," Business Agent Fredi Flores said. 

The execution of mechanical insulation and firestop work at the site required Local 5 members to hold multiple certifications. 

When the Bakersfield Renewable Fuels Refinery becomes fully operational, it expects to produce up to 15,000 barrels of renewable diesel daily, making itself one of North America's largest facilities of its kind. 



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