Category Archives: Air pollution

More bad Valero flaring on Monday 5/15 sends 30 to hospital

Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald

Residual Valero Benicia flaring reportedly sends 30 to hospital on Monday

By Katy St. Clair, 05/17/17, 5:15 PM PDT

BENICIA >> A residual flaring at the Valero Refinery on mid-day Monday reportedly sent 30 employees of the Industrial Park to the emergency room, a business owner said.

“I’m not happy about it at all,” said Dunlap Manufacturing head of operations Jasmin Powell, addressing the Benicia City Council on Tuesday night. “A cloud of smoke hit us between 1:30 and 4 (p.m.). I had to send everybody home.”

Dunlop Manufacturing is an Industrial Park anchor business that makes effects units and other accessories for musicians.

Valero has been intermittently flaring since a power failure on May 5, which initiated evacuations of the Industrial Park and a shelter-in-place at two elementary schools.

“We were affected severely … and we didn’t get any notice about anything going on beforehand,” Powell said. “And no one’s talking about it now,” she said.

“I did not know about this, Jasmin,” said Mayor Elizabeth Patterson.

While some on social media have been reporting flaring since the initial May 5 incident at Valero, no further evacuations or shelter-in-place orders have been announced.

Benicia Fire Chief Jim Lydon said that he wasn’t made aware of the situation on Monday until hearing about it around 4 p.m., but that Valero had given him “no notification” that day.

“I went to the refinery in an effort to gather information, and by then, whatever had been released from the scrubber unit was basically dissipated,” he said.

Lydon said he notified the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Solano County Environmental Health, “Who both began follow up.”

Lydon said that Valero received an other “public nuisance” citation for Monday’s emissions, but the air district could not confirm this.

Valero has not responded to Times-Herald inquiries, and no one from Valero was at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

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EAST BAY TIMES: Benicia: Valero to pay $157,800 penalty over toxic chemicals

Repost from the East Bay Times

Benicia: Valero to pay $157,800 penalty over toxic chemicals

By Denis Cuff, October 5, 2016, 5:53 pm
The Valero refinery is photographed in Benicia, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)
The Valero refinery is photographed in Benicia, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

BENICIA – The Valero oil refinery has agreed to pay $157,800 in federal penalties for improper management and storage of toxic chemicals and hazardous waste, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday.

The violations included illegal disposal of benzene, a carcinogen, into an unlined storm water retention pond and not alerting the public about all of its toxic chemical releases, EPA officials reported.

In addition to paying the penalties, Valero will modify its piping operations by June 2017 to prevent an estimated 5,000 pounds of benzene from being released into the atmosphere over the next 10 years, officials said.

Evidence of the violations were detected during an EPA inspection of the Benicia refinery in May 2014 to assess compliance with the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

Additional violations included the company’s failure to determine if solid waste generated at the refinery was hazardous; the failure to maintain and operate to minimize risks of a toxic release; and failure to maintain complete and accurate records, the EPA said.

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Demand sags for California credits aimed at greenhouse gases

Repost from Associated Press

Demand sags for California credits aimed at greenhouse gases

By Ellen Knickmeyer, Aug. 23, 2016 6:46 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California’s latest carbon auction brought disappointing results Tuesday as litigation and lagging support by lawmakers weigh down the state’s landmark programs combating climate change.

State officials said only 34 percent of the available carbon pollution credits were sold in the latest auction under the program, which requires companies that emit climate-changing gases to buy the pollution permits.

It was a slight rebound from this spring, when investors bought just 10 percent of the pollution credits offered, signaling a rocky period for the state’s overall campaign against climate-changing pollution from fossil fuels.

The cap-and-trade program is a keystone of Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to reduce climate-changing pollution in California and is being watched closely around the world as other governments put together efforts to fight climate change.

Dave Clegern, spokesman for the state air board that runs the effort, said the program is adapting as it should to shifts in the market.

“The California cap-and-trade program is first and foremost a greenhouse gas reduction program, and it is working” to bring down carbon pollution from fossil fuels, Clegern said in an email.

Pollution credits consistently sold out after the cap-and-trade program began in 2012, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars quarterly for initiatives that reduce greenhouse gases. The proceeds are used to fund a high-speed rail project pushed by Brown, along with other transit construction and energy conservation efforts.

This year, demand plummeted amid uncertainty about the program’s viability. The result was the steep decline in revenue at a spring auction, prompting concerns that funding won’t be available long-term to continue the programs.

Brown, backed by environmental groups and some Democratic lawmakers, is struggling to win support for extending the state’s landmark global warming law amid opposition from oil companies, Republicans and moderate Democrats in the Legislature.

Republican lawmakers called the latest middling auction results a failure and a flop, and called again for the state to abandon the cap-and-trade program.

However, the state Assembly took a critical step Tuesday when it advanced the latest global warming legislation to the state Senate, where it is also expected to pass before next week. Both chambers are dominated by Democrats.

The California Chamber of Commerce is fighting cap-and-trade in court, claiming it is an illegal tax that did not go through the proper legislative approval process.

The lawsuit in particular is scaring away some potential investors, said Dan McGraw, a Houston-based carbon analyst with the ICIS trade publication.

“Potentially there’s a lot to lose if the California Chamber of Commerce wins that case,” McGraw said.

The growing backlog of unsold carbon credits also is weighing on the cap-and-trade program, he said.

“They’re going through something every carbon market has gone through,” the analyst said. “The question is: What do you do now?”

The latest auction results show that the market needs certainty about the state’s long-term cap and trade program, through either the Legislature or state voters vouching for its future in a ballot initiative, Nancy McFadden, Brown’s chief of staff, said in a statement.

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