Category Archives: Air quality violations

KQED – Report on Valero shut down

Repost from KQED California Report

After Weeks of Issues, Valero’s Benicia Refinery to Temporarily Shut Down

By Ted Goldberg, Michelle Wiley,  Mar 24, 2019 11:30 a.m.
Problems began at the refinery on March 11 when a malfunction involving one of the refinery’s units led to the release of petroleum coke dust. (Sasha Khokha/KQED)

The Valero refinery is performing a controlled shutdown to “improve conditions and minimize risk,” according to a statement from Benicia city officials. The shutdown could last multiple days and result in visible flaring.

Earlier Sunday, city officials issued an advisory notice for residents with respiratory issues to stay inside after a two-week-old problem at the Valero refinery worsened.

But now that the refinery is shutting down, city officials and Solano County health officer Bela Matyas says the air quality is safe for residents.

The problem the Valero refinery began on March 11 when a malfunction involving one of the refinery’s units led to the release of petroleum coke dust.

A Valero representative said then that refinery’s flue gas scrubber was “experiencing operational issues.”

The releases prompted local air regulators to issue seven notices of violation against the refinery. 

Those problems eased after a few days but continued intermittently, air district officials said.

On Saturday several Benicia residents posted comments on the social media site, Nextdoor, expressing concerns about what appeared to be more black smoke coming from Valero’s stacks.

On Sunday, the particulate matter in the air increased.

“The concentration of particulate matter has become significantly higher over the past day. The emissions contain coke, a by-product of the refining process that is made up primarily of carbon particles,” the city’s statement says.

Benicia officials said testing of the coke dust released so far did not show heavy metals at harmful levels but warned that breathing in air from the releases could worsen underlying respiratory conditions like asthma.

“Inspectors are on scene working with the facility and with Solano County and making a determination if additional violations will be coming,” said Lisa Fasano, a spokeswoman with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

The Air District also deployed a monitoring van to drive throughout Benicia to “gather ground level emissions data.”

KQED: Coverage of Valero Benicia Refinery emergency releases

Repost from KQED California Report

Problems at Valero’s Benicia Refinery Increase, Prompt Health Advisory

By Ted Goldberg, Mar 24, 2019, updated at 10:05am
Problems began at the refinery on March 11 when a malfunction involving one of the refinery’s units led to the release of petroleum coke dust. (Sasha Khokha/KQED)

Benicia city officials are urging residents with respiratory issues to stay inside because a two week old problem at the Valero refinery has intensified.

“Go inside your home, workplace, or the nearest building that appears to be reasonably airtight and stay there,” reads an advisory sent out by the city of Benicia Sunday morning.

The problem began on March 11 when a malfunction involving one of the refinery’s units led to the release of petroleum coke dust.

A Valero representative said then that refinery’s flue gas scrubber was “experiencing operational issues.”

The releases prompted local air regulators to issue seven notices of violation against the refinery. 

Those problems eased after a few days but continued intermittently, air district officials said.

On Saturday several Benicia residents posted comments on the social media site, Nextdoor, expressing concerns about what appeared to be more black smoke coming from Valero’s stacks.

On Sunday that intensified.

“(The) City of Benicia has issued (an) advisory notice for all residents with respiratory issues due to particulate matter from an ongoing incident at the Valero Benicia Refinery,” the city’s statement reads.

City officials are telling local residents with weakened respiratory systems to close all doors, windows and fireplace dampers, urging them to put tape or damp towels around doors and windows to seal them.

The advisory also recommends that healthy people limit their outdoor activity.

“The concentration of particulate matter has become significantly higher over the past day. The emissions contain coke, a by-product of the refining process that is made up primarily of carbon particles,” the city’s statement says.

Benicia officials said testing of the coke dust released so far did not show heavy metals at harmful levels but warned that breathing in air from the releases could worsen underlying respiratory conditions like asthma.

In a statement, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said inspectors are at the refinery investigating the cause of this heavy smoke. The Air District also deployed a monitoring van to drive throughout Benicia to “gather ground level emissions data.”

Complaints Over Latest Flaring Event At Chevron Richmond Refinery

Repost from KPIX5 CBS SF Bay Area

Complaints Over Latest Flaring Event At Chevron Richmond Refinery

March 18, 2019 at 1:26 pm
Image result for chevron richmond refinery
Chevron Richmond Refinery

RICHMOND (CBS SF) – Four members of the public filed complaints with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District over flaring observed at the Chevron Richmond Refinery over the weekend.

The air district sent inspectors to the scene Sunday, and they are continuing to investigate the flaring, which Chevron said was caused by an upset in a process unit.

District spokeswoman Kristine Roselius said that so far, no notices of violation have been issued with regard to the incident, but detailed information about what chemicals were released into the air and why may not be available for months.

Roselius referred to flares as a safety device, burning very hot to protect public health by pushing the emissions high into the atmosphere to minimize their effect on nearby communities.

In a statement issued Sunday by Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall, the oil giant reassured neighbors that there was no environmental or health risk, and that flares are used to “relieve pressure during the refining processes.”

Members of the community interested in monitoring air quality around the refinery can do so at www.fenceline.org/richmond.

Sunday’s flaring is just the latest in a string of such occurrences, with eight flaring events reported in 2018 as well as incidents in January and February of this year. The latest reports of flaring

Air district officials have said each one is under investigation, but that in most of the 2018 incidents, the flares were burning off hydrogen, which burns very clean.