Oil Spill at Phillips 66 CA Refinery

Wednesday, September 6, 2017 @ 03:09 PM gHale

There is a new oil spill at the Phillips 66 refinery marine terminal in Rodeo, CA, and state fish and wildlife officials are launching an investigation.

The spill in San Pablo Bay ended up discovered Monday morning and comes as the energy giant pursues a major expansion of the number of oil tankers that unload crude at the facility. It’s the first spill since the one in September 2016 at the same terminal believed to have been the source of noxious fumes that sickened dozens of people in Vallejo.

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“These kinds of small spills are like death to the Bay from a thousand small cuts,” said Sejal Choksi-Chugh, executive director of San Francisco Baykeeper, one of the organizations hoping to block the refinery’s expansion proposal.

The refinery told the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services about the spill shortly before 9 a.m. Monday.  A report filed with the office said a spill of a gas and oil mixture had created a 20-by-20-foot rainbow-like sheen in the water.

Officials from the U.S. Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) ended up called in. The Coast Guard is investigating the spill.

OSPR crews spent most of the day monitoring the incident, which took place at the marine terminal’s wharf, said Mary Fricke, an agency spokeswoman.

The spill was the result of an equipment failure, according to U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Nicole Emmons.

An undetermined amount of light petroleum released from a transfer pipe, a device used to load and unload fuel to and from oil tankers, Fricke said in an email.

Phillips 66 is cleaning up the fuel, said Randy Sawyer, the chief environmental health and hazardous materials office for Contra Costa County Health Services.

The county has asked the refinery to submit a report on the cause of the malfunction, Sawyer said.

Phillips 66 has not responded to requests for comment.

Currently, 59 ships a year are allowed to make crude oil and gas oil deliveries at the facility. The company wants to increase that limit to 135.

Phillips 66 said the extra tanker deliveries would replace crude oil currently delivered by pipeline.

The company has applied for a permit with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to raise the daily average of oil unloaded at the terminal from about 51,000 barrels to 130,000.

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