2012-06-15 "Rodeo refinery spill prompts Benicia alert"
by Donna Beth Weilenman from "Benicia Herald" [http://beniciaherald.me/2012/06/15/rodeo-refinery-spill-prompts-benicia-alert/#more-18106]:
strong odor in Benicia caused by a spill at a Rodeo-based refinery
prompted a communitywide alert Friday morning, though Fire Chief Steve
Vucurevich said no shelter-in-place warning was required.
city’s dispatchers handled more than 300 calls from residents who were
worried about the smell, and of those, 30 were directed to the fire
department, Vucurevich said. “It was definitely a strong odor.”
ConocoPhillips refinery, 1380 San Pablo Ave., experienced the release
about 7:45 a.m. It was handled by Contra Costa Fire Protection District,
according to information Vucurevich and the city alert system provided.
Contra Costa Environmental Health was told of the spill, the notification said.
said he learned from Colby LaPlace, Solano County Department of
Resource Management specialist, that the ConocoPhillips refinery
experienced overpressurizing in a sour water tank, causing it to leak.
“That’s what is causing the odor,” he said.
smell, which residents said was like rotten eggs, was from hydrogen
sulfide contamination in the tank’s water. Prevailing winds were
expected to dissipate the odor, residents were told.
putting foam on it to reduce the vapors and odor, and they hope it will
be mitigated by 4 p.m. today,” Vucurevich said Friday.
near the Contra Costa County refinery reached 1 part per million, said
Randy Sawyer, Contra Costa County chief environmental health and
hazardous materials officer.
The gas becomes a hazard at 30 parts
per million, but the odor becomes more offensive long before it reaches
that level, Sawyer said.
He explained that the smell might make
some motorists in the vicinity of the ConocoPhillips refinery might feel
nauseated if heavy traffic slowed their driving times.
Benicia Refinery employees checked the refinery’s ground level monitors’
measurements, and were able to to provide information to local
officials, Vucurevich said.
Based on the data provided by the
local refinery, which otherwise was not involved with the spill, the
city authorized the notice to the public, but learned it did not need to
issue a shelter-in-place warning or sound alarms.
the CAN (community alert network) system to get the information out to
the community,” Vucurevich said. “It’s not a health risk to us.”