Tag Archives: Martinez CA

Video: Initial report on Chevron Refinery flaring incident released

This short video features Adam Springer, Assistant Director of Contra Costa County’s Hazardous Materials Program, and Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioa addressing the Chevron Refinery’s recent flaring incident. It is about two-and-a-half minutes long and worth a quick watch.

Flaring reported at Martinez refinery day after class action lawsuit proposed

The Martinez Refining Co. is the focus of a joint civil action over its release of heavy-metal laden dust. | Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle.

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.

The Contra Costa Health Department is investigating after a flare-up at the Martinez Refinery sent white ash raining down on nearby neighborhoods. | Still from ABC7 footage.

“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.”

Fire at Martinez refinery injures one, prompts temporary public health advisory

[Note from BenIndy: This incident occurred at the Martinez Renewable Fuels (Marathon) refinery, not the (apparently also) troubled Martinez Refining Company that is currently the subject of a joint civil action brought by the Contra Costa DA and BAAQMD.]

The Martinez Marathon Refinery is pictured in January 2019. | CrystalMage / Shutterstock.

ABC7, Bay City News, November 19, 2023

MARTINEZ, Calif. — Contra Costa Health said on social media at 1:34 a.m. a CCH hazardous materials team was “responding to reports of a fire at Martinez Renewable Fuels (Marathon Refinery) that may affect surrounding areas.”

A public health advisory was issued for Martinez, Pacheco, Concord and Clyde. People were asked to visit Contra Costa Health Department for information.

Shortly after, CCH said on social media it lifted the public health advisory for Martinez, Pacheco, Concord and Clyde. “The fire at Martinez Renewable Fuels is under control,” is said.

 

CCH said on its website at 3:54 a.m. “Flaring incident at Marathon Martinez that may be seen by the surrounding community.”

An all clear for Martinez, Pacheco, Concord and Clyde” was later issued on the CCH web page.

Contra Costa County Fire Captain George Lang told ABC7 News Sunday morning one person was hurt and airlifted to an area hospital.

The company says they will be investigating the fire to figure out what caused it.

The company issued a statement to ABC7 News writing:

“Marathon Petroleum responders extinguished a fire early this morning at the company’s Martinez renewable fuels facility. One employee was injured and transported to a medical facility. Fenceline air monitoring indicated no off-site impact. Regulatory notifications were made. The safety of our employees, contractors, and the surrounding community is our top priority. An investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the incident.”

This refinery is not associated with Martinez Refining Company.

Martinez refinery hit with joint civil action after repeated toxic dust releases

The Martinez Refining Co. is the focus of a joint civil action over its release of heavy-metal laden dust. | Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle.

SF Chronicle, by Megan Fan Munce, November 17, 2023

Two Bay Area agencies announced they would collaborate on a joint civil enforcement action against the Martinez Refining Co. following several toxic dust releases over the past year.

On Thursday, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office announced it, along with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, would be combining prosecutorial resources to make sure the refinery is following state law and air quality regulations.

Over the past year, the Martinez refinery has released dust into the air four times. Oil refining can produce fine dust that can damage the heart and lungs when inhaled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Most recently, Martinez residents voiced frustration after an Oct. 6 release sparked air quality concerns just as a local high school was preparing for its homecoming game and parade. County officials later announced there was no risk to public health.

Last Thanksgiving, a release of toxic white dust prompted county health officials to warn residents not to eat food from their gardens. Officials advised residents to wear N95 respirators when cleaning up the dust, which they said contained elevated levels of heavy metals.

In January, Contra Costa Health formally asked the district attorney to consider taking legal action against the Martinez refinery, alleging the company failed to notify the county of the release until two days after it began. The EPA and FBI have also been probing into the company’s actions.

That Thanksgiving release will be one of many the joint civil action seeks to address, according to the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office.

“The goal of this joint effort with the Air District is to achieve a resolution that ensures environmental compliance, and to rebuild and foster a safer community for the residents of Martinez,” Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton said in a statement.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Contra Costa Health have also submitted notices of violation against the Martinez refinery and will be participating in the civil joint action.

PBF Energy, which owns the Martinez refinery, could not be reached for a comment Thursday night. Ted Asregadoo, a spokesperson for the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, told the East Bay Times the company was aware of the joint civil action and were “open to the process.”

Alexander Crockett, chief counsel for the Air District, said in a statement that the “comprehensive approach” would ensure the refinery becomes compliant with all air quality regulations.