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Official Report On Chevron Toxic Release
January 31, 2002
TO: Honorable Mayor Irma L. Anderson
And Members of the Richmond City Council

FROM: Angela Jones, Public Information Officer

THRU: Isiah Turner, City Manager

DATE: January 31, 2002

SUBJECT: Sulfur Dioxide Release at Chevron Refinery


This is a report of the details as we know them to date regarding the release of sulfur dioxide at the Chevron Refinery today.

According to Rick Zalesky, Plant Manager:
  1. At approximately 12:45 p.m. the refinery lost feed to the Sulfur Recovery Unit (SRU) plant.
  2. Loss of the SRU plant resulted in a release or brief plume of sulfur dioxide (SO2).
  3. At 1:06 p.m., Chevron personnel called the County to advise them of a Level 1 Alert, meaning the incident was confined to the plant.
  4. At 1:26 p.m., Chevron personnel called the County to elevate the alert to a Level 3 because the odor of sulfur dioxide had the potential to be detected off site and may be detected in the nearby community. Chevron officials activated the Community Warning System, initially setting off all 22 sirens in the City of Richmond, including two in San Pablo, signaling residents to shelter-in-place. Chevron officials reported the actual affected area was Point Richmond, or the boundary areas West of 23 Street and South of Hensley Street to the San Francisco Bay. Activation of warning sirens was then reduced to the affected areas, identified as Zones 1 and 2.
  5. At 1:35 p.m. Chevron officials reported the plume was no longer visible.
  6. At 1:36 p.m. Chevronís Plant Manager called the City Public Information Officer to report the incident. The City Manager and Office of Emergency Services Manager had already been notified by Rick Zalesky at 1:25 p.m.
  7. At 1:42 p.m., the Cityís Public Information Officer, notified KCRT and all city personnel via the email of the purpose for the sirens.
  8. At 1:54 p.m., KCRT activated a message on screen with information on the incident.
  9. At 1:56 p.m., a message began broadcasting on KCOR 790 a.m., and the KCRT website.
  10. At 2:15 p.m., the City Manager briefed Mayor Anderson on the actions performed by the City, Chevron and the County up to that point.
  11. At 3:48 p.m., County officials gave the All Clear notice. Chevronís General Manager called the City Manager to report the All Clear status.
  12. At 4:01 p.m., KCRT updated the on screen message with the All Clear.

According to Richmond Deputy Fire Inspector Ron Wiley who was on scene, Chevron is required to generate an incident report and forward it to the County within 72 hours. Because this incident was a Level 3 Alert, a Root Cause Analysis is also required to be completed and submitted to the County within 30 days.

The City Manager talked with Dr. Henry Clark, Executive Director of the West County Toxics Coalition, about the incident at 2:00 p.m. to get his opinion on how the City, Chevron, and the County were responding to the release. Dr. Clark stated he felt the City was being proactive. He said he knows the Countyís role and he expects that the Root Cause Analysis should bring about the appropriate correction action on the part of Chevron. Dr. Clark said he expects the City to hold the County accountable for implementation of any corrective action, which I assured him would occur.

There have been no reports of injury to residents because of this incident. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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