Council receives report and recommendation from staff, will discuss and vote on Tues April 16
The agenda for the Benicia City Council meeting of Tuesday, April 16 was distributed to the public today.
A very important issue will be under consideration: the much-needed update to the City’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), complete with an emergency evacuation plan and plans for mass care and shelter.
The staff report gives a very brief overview and details the process by which the update was developed. At the end of the report are these very important links to the heart of the EOP:
“(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.”
Shortly after 9 a.m., the City of Benicia was advised that the Valero Benicia Refinery will be performing a controlled shutdown of the entire refinery. This shutdown is being conducted to improve conditions and minimize risk from earlier operational issues. This shutdown is expected to last for multiple days and will result in visible flaring.
Benicia Fire Department personnel continue to work with Solano County Environmental Health, Solano County Public Health, and Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD).
The advisory notice continues for all residents with respiratory issues.
Those with respiratory compromise should do the following immediately:
Go inside your home, workplace, or the nearest building that appears to be reasonably airtight and stay there.
Close all doors, windows, and any fireplace dampers. Cracks around doors and windows can be sealed with tape or damp towels.
Stay tuned to receive emergency announcements and instructions.
Healthy individuals – limit outdoor activity.
Follow the City of Benicia Facebook and website (ci.benicia.ca.us) for routine updates. Please do not call 9-1-1 unless you are experiencing an emergency.
On November 14, a coalition of local groups convened an expert panel to share with Benicians about the importance of establishing an Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO). Organizers believe that a local ISO will give our community a seat at the table and enable a faster response in times of industrial emergency situations.