Four members of the public filed complaints with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District over flaring observed at the Chevron Richmond Refinery over the weekend.
The air district sent inspectors to the scene Sunday, and they are continuing to investigate the flaring, which Chevron said was caused by an upset in a process unit.
District spokeswoman Kristine Roselius said that so far, no notices of violation have been issued with regard to the incident, but detailed information about what chemicals were released into the air and why may not be available for months.
Roselius referred to flares as a safety device, burning very hot to protect public health by pushing the emissions high into the atmosphere to minimize their effect on nearby communities.
In a statement issued Sunday by Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall, the oil giant reassured neighbors that there was no environmental or health risk, and that flares are used to “relieve pressure during the refining processes.”
Members of the community interested in monitoring air quality around the refinery can do so at www.fenceline.org/richmond. Sunday’s flaring is just the latest in a string of such occurrences, with eight flaring events reported in 2018 as well as incidents in January and February of this year.
Air district officials have said each one is under investigation, but that in most of the 2018 incidents, the flares were burning off hydrogen, which burns very clean.