Contra Costa County Health Services to Oversee Investigation of Chevron Flaring Incident


Chevron has agreed to have Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) oversee the investigation of the Dec. 18 flaring at the Richmond Refinery and to keep the agency and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District informed of the investigation.

Chevron will meet with health agency and Air District representatives on a weekly basis to provide status on the investigation and will share a draft of the final report with them for comments before the final report is complete.

The investigation lead will provide an overview of the investigation once it is complete and the underlying process data used in the investigation will be available for review by the other agencies.

The investigation will take approximately a month.

Chevron submitted a 72-hour report to Contra Costa Health Services on Dec. 19. The Chevron report indicated a loss of cooling resulted in the need to depressurize the refinery’s solvent de-asphalting unit, and that the unplanned flaring incident occurred as part of the refinery’s safety system to depressurize and shutdown the unit.

Flaring is a safety measure refineries use to burn excess fuels released to depressurize an affected unit. County Hazardous Materials staff was notified of the flaring activity at the Chevron refinery about 6:55 p.m. on Dec. 18.

The flaring occurred intermittently for about three hours.

Hazardous Materials staff responded to the scene to assess the situation and determined a shelter-in-place was not needed because no odors were detected, and ground level fence line chemical monitors at the site did not register levels that would require a shelter-in-place.

Contra Costa Hazardous Materials will review and audit Chevron’s corrective action plan process for the incident.

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