Chevron Faces Toxic Gas Release Queries

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 @ 06:01 PM gHale

Chevron executives are going to city hall in San Francisco to answer for two malfunctions at their Richmond, CA, refinery that may have released toxic gas late last month.

San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell plans to call for a hearing into the series of refinery problems in Richmond that apparently sent large amounts of hydrogen sulfide into the air hours before dozens of residents on the other side of San Francisco Bay complained of a sulfur-like smell.

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“For two consecutive nights, a strange rotten-egg smell lingered in the air in San Francisco,” Farrell said. “Chevron must answer for their actions.”

Along with Chevron, Farrell wants air district officials and air quality experts to appear before the Board of Supervisors.

He is the second elected leader in the Bay Area to call for more action from Chevron on the heels of two flaring incidents at the refinery on Dec. 27 and 28.

John Gioia, the Contra Costa County supervisor who represents the area of the refinery and who sits on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) board, said the air district believes the abnormally high amounts of hydrogen sulfide detected by one of Chevron’s air monitors after flaring operations caused the sulfur-like smell in San Francisco.

The oil company will probably end up fined by the air district for violating air quality standards and by Contra Costa County authorities for waiting 13 hours to report its first flaring incident, Gioia said.

Chevron and other local refineries emphasize that flaring is a highly regulated safety method used to relieve pressure inside their facilities.

The company does not agree the malfunctions at its Richmond facility caused the San Francisco odor and maintains it’s working with air regulators.

“We continue to meet and cooperate with BAAQMD on their investigation,” company spokeswoman Leah Casey said.

The air district, which is still investigating, has not told Chevron the refinery is the source of the odors, according to Casey.

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