Tag Archives: Air monitoring

At long last! Getting closer to an Air District monitoring system in Benicia

     Click here for background

ALERT!  Please mark your calendar and plan to attend on Wednesday, June 30.  See  the Air District ANNOUNCEMENT (with Zoom link) below.

First, here are links to important documents about the meeting:



Virtual Meeting on Benicia
Community Air Monitoring Site Selection

Dear Benicia Community and Stakeholders,

You are invited to attend a virtual community meeting to learn about air quality monitoring and help shape the future of community air monitoring in the Benicia area.

In a joint effort with the City of Benicia, the Air District identified candidate locations in Benicia for a new community air monitoring station. At this meeting, Air District staff will share the sites under consideration and information about how the sites were selected. Community members and stakeholders will have the opportunity to inform final site selection.

When:

The workshop will be held using Zoom and will take place on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Zoom Link:

https://kearnswest.zoom.us/j/91068701818?pwd=WVR5d3JwVVFRUmpuaUQxWWpOVGFnZz09

Why:

The Air District monitors air quality as part of ongoing efforts to inform and protect public health. One of the ways the Air District does this is by collecting fees to install, operate, and maintain air monitoring stations in communities near refineries. These air monitoring stations will provide additional information about the levels of pollution experienced by these communities.

The Air District invites you to participate in this community meeting to discuss and review the site selection process and provide feedback on a community air monitoring station within the Benicia community.

Air District staff want to ensure a fair and equitable virtual workshop experience and provide opportunities for all interested parties to participate. Workshop materials are available on the Air District’s Workshop web page.

Simultaneous language interpretation can be provided upon request at least 72 hours before the event. Contact Brian Butler at bbutler@baaqmd.gov or 415-603-7721 to request interpretation.

Questions may be sent by e-mail to iperkins@baaqmd.gov.

Para información en español, llame al 415-749-4609
中文聯絡電話 415-749-4609
Nói Tiếng Việt xin gọi 415-749-4609

Working to protect public health, air quality, and the global climate,
Your Air District


Bay Area Air Quality Management District
375 Beale Street, Suite 600, San Francisco, CA 94105, United States
(415) 749-4900 | 1-800-HELP-AIR | Email: feedback@baaqmd.gov

Benicia staff report on air monitoring – to be discussed at January 5 Council meeting

By Roger Straw, December 30, 2020

The City of Benicia released its City Council agenda for January 5, including an important discussion of air monitoring in our refinery town.

Local environmental activists (including me) are hailing this effort on the part of City staff as a show of responsiveness to years of citizen requests for more and better access to real-time air quality information.

Your thoughts are being sought by Benicia elected officials and staff.  Please read the staff report, and plan to attend the zoom Council meeting on January 5.

Staff Report: STATUS UPDATE: Benicia Air Monitoring and Improvements to the City’s Community Emergency Notifications

Agenda: (including instructions for virtual attendance and how to comment) Benicia City Council virtual meeting January 5, AGENDA

Letter from Benicia’s Marilyn Bardet to BAAQMD: Must enforce refinery air monitor requirements

Copy of Marilyn Bardet’s letter, forcefully asking the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to follow through on promised enforcement of refinery air monitoring standards


Marilyn Bardet

From: Marilyn Bardet <email>
Subject: BAAQMD oversight/enforcement of Reg 12 – Rule 15, the Petroleum Refining Emissions Tracking Rule.
Date: October 21, 2020 at 3:37:37 PM PDT
To: Marcy Hiratzka <email@baaqmd.gov>

October 21, 2020

BAAQMD Board of Directors
Chair: Council member Rod Sinks, City of Cupertino
Vice Chair: Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County
Secretary: Supervisor Karen Mitchoff,  Contra Costa County

Sent via email:  <email@baaqmd.gov>

Subject:    BAAQMD oversight and enforcement of Regulation 12 – Rule 15, the Petroleum Refining Emissions Tracking Rule.

Dear Chair Rod Sinks, Vice Chair Cindy Chaves, Secretary Karen Mitchoff and Direrctors

I’m writing  as a 34-year resident of Benicia and a founding active member of the Good Neighbor Steering Committee, [“GNSC”] which was organized in 2000 to address public concerns and protect community health and safety as related to operations of the Valero refinery. I’d hope to express the following concerns at the Special Meeting held as a webinar today, but was unable to do so.

On August 1st, the Board received emailed letters from Jay Gunkelman and myself, outlining problems to date with refineries’ fenceline monitoring systems’ performance and reliability.

As you recall, Rule 15 was adopted in April, 2016. It required Bay Area refineries to install new, best technology fenceline monitoring systems, with raw data to be collected in real time at 5 minute intervals, and with a website provided for public access to that data.

After 4 years since Rule 15’s adoption, for the sake of public health and community safety, we would have expected by now that the Air District would have enforced standards for reliable performance of fenceline monitoring systems at all Bay Area refineries, and that data quality would be assured. Yet, to date, as per Rule 15 protocols, the District has not yet signed off on—e.g., given final approval of— the refineries’ fenceline monitoring and quality assurance plans. This is an unacceptable situation.

Today, we encourage the board and staff to fully address the various problems associated to Rule 15’s implementation at all Bay Area refineries. 

Pertinent to the Benicia community, Valero recently asserted that their Benicia refinery will be “the last man standing” among Bay Are refineries, and will continue to refine crude oil and produce petroleum products. Emissions tracking and fenceline monitoring will continue to be of particular concern to Benicians. The reliability of Valero’s fenceline systems’ performance is in serious doubt. 

In 2017, as per Rule 15 Guidelines, the GNSC submitted substantial comments to the District on Valero’s plans that had been created by Sonoma Tech for Valero.

In late 2019, the Benicia City Council voted to encourage Valero to get their fenceline systems installed and up and running before the District’s original deadline. Valero complied, installing 3 pathway systems and creating a public website to provide access to the data collected. Later, when public questions began to arise, Valero said that the new Hydrogen Sulfide monitoring system they’d purchased had never been field tested. After a year’s worth of data collection, data reliability remains questionable even for “signature” gases, including benzene. According to the Federal EPA’s Benzene Fenceline Monitoring Program, Valero’s benzene emissions were not only found to be the highest in the Bay Area; Valero’s total benzene emissions are four times greater than the four other refineries in the region.

It is implausible that there would be so few reportable detections, as the website routinely reports. Repeatedly, the website indicates that instruments are offline, or data is “pending final review.” Whose review? There is apparently no public access to archived data. Good science requires independent validation of data. Credibility of the systems and the data collection is at stake. Without independent review, public confusion and doubt about the sytems’ reliability will persist.

Right now, there is no independent, 3rd party data analysis required by the Air District. Yet verification of data for accuracy is crucial to public trustUnfortunately, in our casethe District has still not yet approved Valero’s fenceline monitoring system plan including the required quality assurance plan as mandated by Rule 12-15.

In the meantime, concerned Benicia residents formed a non-profit, incorporated in 2019, to provide an independently operated, community-based air-monitoring station for Benicia, called Benicia Community Air Monitoring Program. The system will be operated by solar, and will meet international standards for data quality. (Funding was appropriated through GNSC’s urging amendments to the  Settlement Agreement negotiated with Valero and City of Benicia.) We expect the new station will be operational by the end of 2020.

How is it possible that a small community group in Benicia can locate, configure and install an array of air monitoring equipment in less than a year, while the refineries in the Bay Area are still installing technologically inferior fenceline systems four years after they were told by the BAAQMD that these systems had to be approved and proven reliable, thus producing accurate data by now? 

I reiterate my request made in my letter of August 1st: 

We ask the Board to compel Valero to present all of the data associated with these systems to the public as soon as possible. In addition, we would like to see all raw data produced by the fenceline system at Valero so that it can be reviewed by independent experts. We ask that the  public have access to all District staff comments on refineries’ monitoring plans including quality assurance plans.

Thank you for your timely consideration of these matters.

Respectfully,

Marilyn Bardet
Benicia CA 94510

Valero fined $183,000 for 2010 incidents

Repost from The Contra Costa Times
[Editor: These fines are for violations in 2010.  In October of 2013, Valero agreed to pay $300,300 in fines for violations occurring in 2011 and 2012 (see SFGate story, Benicia Herald story).  At that time, Mayor Patterson and I asked the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (independently) to consider making the fines available to the local setting where the violations occurred, a practice not without precedent.  I never a definitive answer on my request from Eric Stevenson, the District’s Director of Technical  Serevices.  He did inform me in November 2013 that the District had scheduled a meeting with Mayor Patterson to discuss this request.  I wonder what happened?  It makes sense to me that the City of Benicia could finance better air monitoring using these funds.  – RS]

Benicia refinery hit with $183,000 fine for air quality violations

(Vallejo) Times-Herald   03/28/2014 04:56:30 PM PDT

BENICIA — Valero has agreed to pay $183,000 to settle air quality violations at its Benicia refinery, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced Friday.

The civil penalty covers seven notices of violation that the air district issued to Valero in 2011 for incidents that occurred in 2010, according to an air district news release.

The violations were related to a December 2010 upset of Valero’s fluid catalytic cracking unit, which converts heavy gas oils into gasoline and other lighter compounds. The upset resulted in intermittent violations of opacity and particulate standards at Valero’s main stack over a 10-day period, as well as violations of carbon monoxide and sulfur standards at other affected equipment, the district said.

All settlement funds will be used to fund air district activities such as the inspection and enforcement activities that led to the settlement.