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Details emerge on
Community meeting will address concerns about notification of
A morning fire that sent flames shooting 100 feet into the air
at the Bay Area's largest oil refinery this week started when
hot diesellike oil leaked from a pipe or pump, county health
officials said Thursday.
It is unclear
what caused the leak at the Chevron Richmond Refinery, said
Randy Sawyer, county hazardous materials programs director.
show the fire expelled sulfur dioxide and other toxins into the
air, but at low levels that would not impact nearby residents,
The fire began at
5:18 a.m. Monday and caused no obvious damage to Point Richmond
neighborhoods. Because of a software malfunction and other
delays, a Tennessee company contracted with the county to notify
residents about refinery emergencies took more than an hour to
call 2,800 households.
That is one of
many topics that will be addressed Wednesday night in Point
Richmond at a community meeting about the fire.
could have helped to get it done faster, but not that much
faster," Sawyer said. "We always review these incidents to see
how we can improve that process."
a brief report Thursday that included few new details on the
fire or its impacts. The San Ramon-based company updated its
initial findings of one injured worker to two. Both employees --
one with minor burns and the other with minor skin irritation --
returned to work later on Monday, according to the report.
The fire started
at the refinery's No. 4 crude unit, which was in the process of
being shut down for planned maintenance and inspection. The
Richmond refinery -- the Bay Area's largest, with refining
production of up to 240,000 barrels of crude oil per day -- was
not expected to slow down due to the fire, Sawyer said.
Division of Occupational Safety and Health has roped off the
area where the fire began as part of its investigation. Chevron
officials, who will release a more detailed report by Feb. 14,
did not return phone calls seeking comment Thursday.
Councilman Tom Butt, who lives south of the refinery, said he
plans at Tuesday's council meeting to reintroduce a law that
would fine Chevron $6,000 a minute from the time emergency
sirens begin until county officials deem the area safe. A
similar ordinance Butt proposed in 2002 did not pass.
incident, which happened when most people had the day off work
for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, residents were asked to
close their windows, shut off ventilation systems and stay put
for three hours.
sirens sound, you are supposed to shelter in place," Butt said.
"That means nobody goes to work, nobody comes to work in the
west end of Richmond and no schools open. The cost of that is
incredible. What we really need to focus on is this: How does a
community coexist with a high-risk industry right in its midst?"
Ryan Huff covers
Contra Costa County government. Reach him at 925-977-8471 or
if you go
County will hold a community meeting about the Chevron fire from
7 to 8:45 p.m. Wednesday at Washington Elementary School, 565
Wine St., Point Richmond. Agencies making presentations will
include the Health Services Department, Sheriff's Office, Contra
Costa Community Awareness and Emergency Response, Bay Area Air
Quality Management District and Chevron. For more information,