ABC7, by J. R. Stone, November 29, 2023
MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) — Flaring in the form of at least two massive flames could be seen at the Martinez Refining Company for much of Wednesday evening.
This comes just a day after a “proposed class action lawsuit” was filed against the company for past chemical releases during flaring incidents.
Those from the Martinez refinery said there was an operational incident that happened around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The refinery has issued at least two statements saying that the appropriate agencies were notified, and a community notification was given. Those from the refinery say, “We have been maintaining clean combustion during the flaring, and ground-level air monitoring has shown normal measurements.”
We talked with Mitzi Crawford, who lives about a mile away and saw the flaring.
“Number one, there’s a sound kind of a roaring, sound kind of made my tension like oh – something’s happening – so I just turned to look over towards the refinery and there’s quite a large fire that’s coming out of there. Concerning for the whole neighborhood, if people start to wonder and don’t know why you have asthma and all these other things, chronic conditions such as that they don’t investigate it, it’s concerning to see some of this,” said Crawford.
This flaring comes just a day after a proposed class action lawsuit was filed against the Martinez refinery alleging the location has created a “public nuisance.” Citing Thanksgiving of 2022 when 2,024 tons of “spent catalyst” was released into the community leaving metallic dust on things.
“Is there a belief that it effects anyone’s health?” we asked attorney Blair Kittle.
“I think there is definitely a concern, that is part of what we’re asking for in our suit, to make sure there is medical monitoring. A regime that people can go and find that out for sure at scale paid for by the refinery, so there is definitely a concern,” said Kittle.
Mitzi also sent us this cell phone video showing what appears to be particles in the air. She is concerned about what may have been released. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District says their inspectors are investigating the flaring.
In their statement, the Martinez refinery went on to say that “flares are an essential part of a refinery’s integrated, engineered safety systems, designed to safely manage excess gases through efficient, effective combustion.”
Here is the statement issued by the Martinez Refinery:
“At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 29, an operational incident occurred at the Martinez Refinery that led to flaring that was visible offsite. In following our procedures, appropriate agencies were notified, and we promptly issued a Community Warning System Level 1 notification.
We have been maintaining clean combustion during the flaring, and ground-level air monitoring has shown normal measurements. You are welcome to view real-time measurements at our fenceline air monitoring website: http://www.fenceline.org/martinez/. Looking forward, we expect intermittent flaring to continue while our employees address these issues.
Flares are an essential part of a refinery’s integrated, engineered safety systems, designed to safely manage excess gases through efficient, effective combustion. You can learn more about flaring on our website: https://martinezrefiningcompany.com/about-flaring/.
We apologize for any inconvenience to our neighbors and thank our employees for their professional response. As always, we have a community inquiry phone number you can call 925-313-3777 or 925-313-3601 during off work hours. Thank you.”