"Minimal" Air Quality Impact from Chevron Fire, Officials Report

A spokeswoman for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District this afternoon said air samples during and after the Chevron refinery fire showed "surprisingly minimal impacts" because of favorable weather conditions.

The agency responsible for monitoring Bay Area air quality reported this afternoon, Tuesday, that the impact on air quality of the large Chevron refinery fire last night in Richmond was minimal.

Kristine Roselius, spokeswoman for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, said the agency had five inspectors on the scene last night and early this morning and also has been gathering continual, real-time data from its 27 permanent monitor stations near the site and around the Bay Area.

"We're seeing surprisingly minimal impacts, but that's likely due to the favorable weather conditions we had yesterday," Roselius said.

She said light winds near the ground allowed the huge plume from the fire to rise high in the air where it was picked up by stronger high-elevation winds that quickly blew it east and dispersed it.

Chevron spokesman Brent Tippen said, "According to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, local air quality monitors show minimal impacts from the fire, with pollution levels well below the federal health standards."

Tests by Contra Costa Health Services for hydrogen sulfate and volatile organic compounds came up negative, according to a department spokeswoman cited by Bay City News Service.

Roselius, speaking shortly before 4 p.m., said the plume remnants are probably somewhere over the Sierra and are so dispersed as to be barely detectable.

The district is continuing to analyze the air samples to determine what they contained, she said.

The fire, whose plume was visible for miles around the Bay Area, sent hundreds of people to local hospitals with respiratory complaints and prompted a shelter-in-place warning from Contra Costa Health Services for Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo.

Chevron is holding a to address community concerns about the fire and its impacts.

State Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner released a statement this afternoon on the air quality impact:

"Ensuring the health and safety of residents in Richmond and the surrounding West Contra Costa and East Bay communities remains the number one priority. Air quality degradation from incidents like this are especially harmful to children, seniors and other vulnerable populations like those with respiratory conditions. The Chevron facility in Richmond is the largest oil refinery in the Bay Area, so it is understandable that everyone will be asking tough questions. We welcome Chevron’s initiation of tonight’s community meeting and we expect the company to do everything they can to ensure that no danger remains and that any impacts are responded to appropriately. My office will also work with Chevron and state, county and local officials to review existing protocols and to do everything possible to prevent such incidents in the future.”


See more of Patch's Chevron fire coverage:

David Johnston August 08, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Thanks Betty - I was unaware of the registery - and I work at a refinery! Friends often call me when this are amiss.
Jon Quinn August 10, 2012 at 05:44 PM
To say that no one had a legit medical claim is just rediculous. Who are you a chevron share holder? The thick plume of smoke could be seen and smelled from one side of the bay to the other. Just because there werent any highly toxic chemicals found doesnt mean it didnt affect people. It doesnt take much to flare up someones existing asthma or emphasima. Thousands of people are killed or hospitalized from smoke inhalation every year. Most of the time from house fires. Add toxic chemicals and unknowns into the mix and their is serious cause for concern. Many people had legitamite reasons to go to the ER. Even if if you had only minor symstoms, it is best to be checked and get a second opinion from a doctor.
Jon Quinn August 10, 2012 at 05:50 PM
even if only 10 out of 10,000 are legit. Chevron still released mass amounts of smoke into our atmosphere. I personally have nothing against the one that are not legit either. the residents of Richmond have been living next to chevron for ever breathing in toxins from the refinery on a daily basis. Who knows how this could affect everyone long term. Point is, Chevron is a bomb waiting to go off righ in the heart of the East Bay. Chevron needs to go
Mike August 11, 2012 at 06:08 AM
BAAQMD just retracted the "no hazard" claim. It detected levels of the toxic compound acrolein above the federal standard. http://www2.wjbf.com/business/2012/aug/09/regulators-detect-pollution-from-ca-refinery-fire-ar-4312579/ I'm half surprised by this. The air district usually claims that it doesn't have a reliable way to measure acrolein (eye irritant, carcinogen) and that the safety levels are "under revision", so they don't count it when they do hazard analysis for emission permits, even when the planned emission level is many multiples of the safe limit. In my experience, the BAAQMD does NOT like to talk about the acrolein issue, so I'm not surprised that they omitted this substance when they declared that there were no unsafe levels. I can't imagine what might have prompted them to come forward with this now, and what kind of internal pressure it took to break through the taboo. Will the BAAQMD now include acrolein in the hazard analysis for emitters? What about all the existing permits? Just how bad were the acrolein levels? Were they at 102% of safe levels, or 10,000%? Will we ever get answers to these questions?
CHACHA August 24, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Chevron probably "paid-off" AIR QUALITY CONTROL along w/several other major govt officials/depts etc w/ all their lobbiest n big-oil money/profits & campaign donations, etc,This arrogant "BIG FAT $28 bILL PROFIT/YR CORP" SHOULD PAY FOR THESE FIRES, POLLUTANTS ACCIDENTS OR NOT" and not continually "escape w/a slap-on-the- wrist warnings n/or miniscule fines" as well as take a bigger stand w/it's "Social Responsibilty" to "all the surrounding areas, towns/cities, people it affects" (not just the mini Richmond/San Pablo corridor). ie When Chevron n Richmond Fire Depts. called for "other cities "back-up assistance" to help w/fire, many like towns/cities fire/emergency resouces were stripped (stolen) to the bone,(as many towns r understaffed w/only 1 fire station) leaving their people/towns w/out any Fire Trucks/staff coverage @ OUR LOCAL TAXPAPERS EXPENSE, CHEVRON (n other BIG OIL/FIRES Cos ie Shell, Union, etc) SHOULD PAY FOR THESE "BACKUP/ASSISST SERVICES TOO! SO, MAYOR, CITY COUNCIL, WHAT R U GOING TO ABOUT IT, NOW???


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