Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Alert: Chevron Oil Refinery at Richmond is on Fire!

2013-04-26 "Refinery Status: Chevron's Richmond, Calif., Crude Unit Receiving Crude Oil"
by "Dow Jones Business News"
The following table lists unplanned and planned production outages at U.S. refineries as reported by Dow Jones Newswires. The information is compiled from both official and unofficial refining sources and doesn't purport to be a comprehensive list.
Chevron Corp. ( CVX ) on April 26 said the process of introducing crude oil to the 245,000-barrels-a-day crude unit at its Richmond Refinery in California was underway and other plants were in the process of restarting. A fire on Aug. 6 shut the crude unit and reduced rates at other process units.
Tesoro Corp. ( TSO ) on April 22 said an unspecified unit had been restarted the day before at its Golden Eagle Refinery in Martinez, Calif. It is unclear whether the unit had been shuttered for planned or unplanned maintenance. No other detail was provided in a filing to local regulators or by the company spokeswoman.

San Pablo EPA notes: The Chevron Corporation did make money from the price spike which occurred during the aftermath of the disaster, as seen in the following chart, published 2013-11-16 "Why gasoline costs so much in California" by David R. Baker from "San Francisco Chronicle", which shows the price spike occurring only in the State of California during October of 2012:

2012-08-29 "Refinery smoke blew past air monitors" by Demian Bulwa and Will Kane from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
Smoke and soot from the fire at Chevron's refinery in Richmond spread across a densely populated area, sickening thousands. But while the material found its way into lungs and bloodstreams, it did not find an air quality system that could measure it in a meaningful way.
The network of air monitors run by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is designed to track everyday levels of pollutants like ozone and carbon monoxide, part of an effort to meet government health standards.
The network is not - as it demonstrated Aug. 6 - geared for disasters like refinery fires. It couldn't provide much data in real time, and may never provide good numbers on the particulate fallout from the smoky blaze.
Health officials believe those particulates were responsible for numerous emergency room visits by residents complaining of breathing problems. By the end of last week, the number of such visits totaled 11,000.
"The coverage was just ridiculously bad compared to the thousands of lungs, noses and eyes experiencing effects of the toxic soup that was released," said Greg Karras, a senior scientist with Communities for a Better Environment, a nonprofit clean-air advocacy group in Richmond. "If you don't look for the pollution, you don't find the pollution."
The district maintains 40 monitors across the region, five of which are in western Contra Costa County.
Some change may be coming. The fire - which started when a leak in a pipe ignited, sending a plume of smoke thousands of feet into the air - has fomented community pressure.
John Gioia, a Contra Costa County supervisor from Richmond who chairs the air district's board of directors, said he will propose more monitoring of the Bay Area's five refineries and other operations capable of big emissions.
"There needs to be additional monitoring," Gioia said. "We all have a right to know, as accurately as possible, what the air quality is after a release. We'll probably never know exactly, because you can't put a monitor on every block. But I think we can do better."
Discussions are already under way at the air district, said spokeswoman Lisa Fasano, but they touch on complex issues. Among the questions are what monitoring tools would be most helpful and whether taxpayers or potential polluters should pay for them. Another challenge is making the information valuable in real time during a disaster.
"We're always looking at how we might improve our monitoring network, but this incident has made us refocus," Fasano said. "Is there technology out there that would allow us to provide better information? We're looking into that right now."

Portable canisters deployed -
Environmentalists said the fire offered a one-day window into a monitoring system that is inadequate every day.
After the fire started, as residents were warned to shelter indoors, there was an effort to gauge what was in the air. Air district and county workers began using eight bowling ball-size portable canisters to take downwind air samples, looking for 23 toxic compounds, including benzene, which can cause cancer.
The district said just one sample showed a contaminant exceeding state health guidelines - acrolein, which can cause skin, eye and respiratory tract irritation.
However, the canisters do not test for particulate matter, which can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and aggravate asthma and lung disease. In the long term, particulates can reduce lung function and prompt chronic bronchitis.

Measurement 2 miles away -
Nor were particulates measured by Chevron employees who were dispatched to take samples after the fire. The only authoritative monitor of particulates in the area was in San Pablo, at an air district station 2 miles from Chevron.
That filter-based monitor runs once every six days for 24 hours. Coincidentally, it ran the night of the fire, starting at midnight, 5 1/2 hours after ignition. The district said it needed two weeks to analyze the results, which haven't come back yet.
The monitor, which looks a bit like R2-D2, the "Star Wars" robot, runs just once every six days because that offers a solid statistical sample, officials said.
The Chronicle asked Mike Jerrett, chairman of environmental health sciences at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, to analyze air quality following the fire. But after looking at the available data from the district, Jerrett, who has conducted extensive research on refineries in Canada, said there wasn't enough of it.
"The truth is, for this plant, and for many others, we really don't (know)," he said. "We need a better ongoing monitoring system ... in and around the industrial locations. If we're going to understand the impact of the pollution, we need to be more informed."
Meaningful monitoring would require analysis of "dozens or hundreds of compounds," Jerrett said.
Karras said environmentalists and residents have pushed for years for real-time monitoring of particulates downwind of Chevron. Karras said that would allow people - and their doctors - to make informed choices on what do after a release. Residents could also use the information to recoup damages from polluters, he said.
"The company has resisted giving more resources to locals and to government agencies," Karras said, "and when they're criticized, they offer to do their own monitoring as an alternative. The trouble is, people don't trust the fox guarding the henhouse."
In a statement, Chevron officials disagreed, saying that they work with more than 30 regulatory agencies under some of the nation's strictest pollution rules and have reduced pollution by 65 percent since the 1970s. They noted that vehicles and wood burning were far bigger sources of emissions.
They also said that they were augmenting their own three ground-level monitors within the refinery - adding devices on the fence line and working with neighbors in North Richmond, Atchison Village and Point Richmond to find spots for monitors whose results would be posted online.
"We are always reviewing efforts to improve air quality data and better inform the public," a company statement said.

Difficult to analyze -
The Aug. 6 fire's emissions were difficult to analyze because the plume of smoke shot high into the air before spreading out and following the wind, according to the manager of the air district's laboratory, where samples are analyzed.
"We've sometimes sent firefighters in there with their coats and masks to take a sample for us, and then you get a really strong sample," lab manager Jim Hesson said. "But hydrocarbon fires burn so hot that you often can't."
The eight canisters the district used after the Chevron fire had to be brought back to the San Francisco lab for analysis. Officials have looked into buying portable monitors that could spit out results in the field, but they don't think the technology is yet up to snuff, Hesson said.
"You can do it - it won't be as good," Hesson said. "The portable instruments are getting better and better. ... But it will probably still be five to 10 years."
One tool the district has considered is a 30-pound portable chromatographer that looks like a "Ghostbusters" backpack. It costs $130,000, is 50 times less precise than the canisters and doesn't measure particulates, Hesson said.
"Do we want to spend that kind of money on something that doesn't work very well?" he asked.
For particulates, regulators mulled using portable devices as well, which cost a few thousand dollars. But they found the Bay Area's famous fog would cause inaccurate readings.
Dan Jacobson, legislative director for the nonprofit Environment California, said he was unaware of any region in the country with robust monitoring of industrial emissions.
"This is sort of like drug testing on athletes - we're always behind the game," he said. "What we need is information constantly, and we need access to the information all the time. We shouldn't we be waiting for an accident and then trying to find out how bad it is."
Hemant Amin, an air quality chemist, stands with one of the few canisters deployed during and after the Chevron refinery fire in Richmond to collect air samples for testing at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District lab in San Francisco. Photo: Jason Henry, Special To The Chronicle / SF

2012-08-21 "Residents have right to know what is in the air" by Jay Gunkelman and Marilyn Bardet from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
Jay Gunkelman of Pinole and Marilyn Bardet of Benicia work with Global Community Monitor. [www.gcmonitor.org].
The right to know what's in the air we breathe and what we're being exposed to from our neighbors - whether resident, business or industry - is a fundamental human right. This right isn't easy to exercise and vanishes without action.
The recent fire at Chevron's Richmond refinery makes the strongest case for a community's right to know, yet Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo residents have been denied their right by local government and industry. We protest this denial and call for environmental justice.
We join the Richmond community to demand that a public access, real-time air monitoring system be established for the educational benefit and early alert advantages such technologies offer. Residents affected by the toxics released by Chevron's fire deserved to know what was in the air as the fire raged.
Two years ago, Chevron committed itself to supplying air monitoring equipment that would detect gases crossing the refinery fence line and also to establishing community-based air-monitoring stations. These procurements were part of an agreement with the city of Richmond that granted the refinery utility-tax concessions. Chevron, however, never installed the equipment.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District operates ground-level monitoring stations throughout the Bay Area, and previously offered to make the results public, but this valuable information has yet to be openly provided in real time. Experience has shown that these systems can detect gases around the refineries where they are installed, and also gases from other pollution sources. For example, when Valero's Benicia refinery had a big hydrogen sulfide release last year, the event showed up on the ground-level monitoring systems in Rodeo and Crockett.

 Why does it take a Freedom of Information Act request for citizens to get this data after the fact?
 The Chevron fire is part of a history of refinery incidents that dump airborne toxics into Bay Area neighborhoods. We all breathe toxic pollution from multiple sources every day. Chronic respiratory distress and asthma are on the rise.
It's time for Bay Area citizens whose communities host industrial polluters to unite and force industrial leaders, elected officials and regulators to stop their foot-dragging and live up to their commitments to safeguard our neighborhoods from the ever-present danger these facilities pose.

Air quality monitor -
When the refinery in Rodeo had a major release that remained undisclosed for days, residents forced the refinery to install state-of-the-science air-monitoring equipment to detect and measure gases as they crossed the industrial fence line. A similar program is under development in Benicia.
Real-time data appears at [www.fenceline.org/xfence.php].
Chevron got tax concessions for supplying air-monitoring equipment, but didn't install it. Photo: John Storey, Special To The Chronicle / SF

2012-08-20 "Chevron refinery fire a 'close call'" by Jaxon Van Derbeken from "San Francisco Chronicle"
The chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board toured the scene of the Chevron refinery fire Monday and released photos of the gigantic vapor cloud that loomed over Richmond before it caught fire.
 Calling the accident a "close call" that could have had an "extraordinarily bigger impact on the community," Rafael Moure-Eraso said he hopes the agency's investigation will offer lessons to the troubled industry.
"We have seen the refinery sector is having lot of problems," he said.
 Given the magnitude of the vapor cloud, he said, the Aug. 6 accident at the Richmond refinery merited "a serious and careful look."
A series of six pictures taken from Pier 39 in San Francisco by a photographer documenting preparation for America's Cup races showed the rapidly expanding white plume, which suddenly turned partly black. Safety board officials said the exact size and contents of the cloud are still being assessed but the cloud ballooned some 1,000 feet into the air before it ignited and triggered a fire at the plant.
The fire spewed black smoke across Richmond and nearby East Bay communities, sending 11,000 people to clinics and hospitals seeking treatment.
Before the fire, a pipe leading from a unit that processed oil into hydrocarbon products leaked for about two hours while crews studied the situation and removed insulation from around the line. Suddenly, a vapor plume swelled around the crew and an idling fire truck, forcing more than 20 workers to flee for their lives.
 It took two minutes for the dense cloud to ignite, board officials said.
 Moure-Eraso said he was concerned that the operators did not replace the 8-inch diameter pipe when the plant was shut down for maintenance last November, even though corrosion was found in an adjacent 12-inch line, which carried the same diesel-grade material. The 12-inch line was replaced.
Last week, the federal agency reached an agreement with state occupational safety investigators to preserve evidence as the investigation proceeds. Moure-Eraso said he was eager to get beyond criticism by Cal/OSHA investigators in social media that accused the safety board of "grandstanding."
 "We feel like that was the past, that was a mistake," he said and that the safety board had accepted Cal/OSHA's apology.
 He said his agency's goal is to get as much information to the public as possible, as compared with the regulatory agencies charged with deciding whether to charge Chevron with safety violations.
Don Holmstrom, who is managing the investigation for the board, said he was concerned that more than 20 workers were near the leak when the cloud formed. Some escaped just 20 seconds before the fire erupted, he said.
 "When you have a leak, you want to have control of the area," he said. "We are examining the issue of the number of people and why they were there."
Daniel Horowitz, managing director of the Chemical Safety Board, gives an update with photos of the vapor plume. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle / SF

A flammable vapor cloud that led to the fire rises 1,000 feet above the Chevron refinery in Richmond. Photo: Tony Lee {fototaker} / SF

Release of the flammable vapor cloud that led to the fire at the Chevron Oil refinery in Richmond. Photo: Tony Lee {fototaker} / SF

Shauna Lawhorne, with Chemical Safety Board public affairs, displays photos on Monday, August 20, 2012 in Richmond, Calif., of the vapor cloud at the Chevron refinery that exploded on Aug. 6. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle / SF

2012-08-10 "Fire burned same area of Chevron refinery last fall" by Vic Lee from "KGO-TV"
RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) --  ABC7 News has learned there was a fire last fall in the same crude oil unit that ignited Monday night at the Chevron refinery in Richmond. There is also evidence now that removing insulation from the line could have played a major role in that fire.
 The fire occurred on November 14, 2011, in unit four, the same crude oil unit that ignited into flames Monday night. A Contra Costa County HazMat unit incident report says the fire started at about 6 p.m. It goes on to say that like Monday night, there was thick black smoke. The plant was shut down resulting in flaring which was eventually contained, but burned into the night.
We now know a little bit more about what happened Monday night. Cal-OSHA has yet to allow investigators from numerous agencies into the damaged unit four, the crude oil unit where the fire occurred. The agency says it's still too hazardous. A huge crane appeared at the site Friday. It will lift Cal-OSHA inspectors in a cage along the tower, enabling them to view any damage up close.
 The cause of the fire is still unknown, but it appears that removing the insulation from the leaking pipe contributed to it. Chevron says it first noticed the leak at 4:30 Monday afternoon, a small leak, about 20 drips a minute. The emergency response team and maintenance crews began looking at options.
 Randy Sawyer, chief of Contra Costa County's hazmat unit says workers at the scene told him they decided to remove insulation from the pipe. "You take the insulation off so you get a better view of the pipe and where the leak's coming from," he said. Two and a half hours later, crews began to unwrap the insulation. "They were in the process of taking insulation off around 6:30 that afternoon, and that's when the release got really started coming out of the pipe," Sawyer said.
The small leak ignited into a fireball, spewing hot and volatile hydrocarbons into the air. Workers and Chevron firefighters ran out of the unit. Five people suffered minor injuries. A fire truck next to the unit was torched.
 Mark Ross is a director of the Bay Area Air Quality District and used to work in refineries. Asked if the unit should have been shut down before workers began removing the insulation, he said it's a difficult judgment call. "It's a small leak. Sometimes, you take these decisions in your own hands. The local guy on the job just probably should have called to isolate the leak and maybe shut down the unit," he said.
 Chevron says safety is its number one priority "Anybody who's working for us, whether they're an employee or a contractor, has the ability to stop the operation if they see something that they feel puts anyone, the people or the environment at risk," Chevron spokesman Sean Comey said.
 The public is waiting for the 30-day report from Chevron. That report should contain something called the "root cause analysis" or put simply, the cause of the fire.

2012-08-15 "Chevron fire ignited by idling rig?" by Jaxon Van Derbeken and Demian Bulwa from "San Francisco Chronicle"
The Richmond refinery fire that sent more than 9,000 people to emergency rooms could have been touched off when a cloud of flammable vapor reached an idling and abandoned Chevron fire truck, investigators said Tuesday.
 A company surveillance videotape that captured the two minutes before the blast showed that a dense vapor cloud fueled by the leak expanded to more than 200 feet wide and 200 feet high at the refinery's Crude Unit No. 4, surrounding as many as a dozen workers, who fled just in time.
"They were enveloped by a vapor cloud that later ignited when it found an ignition source," said Don Holmstrom, an investigator for the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which is overseeing the fire investigation. The inquiry has involved 50 interviews and scrutiny of thousands of pages of documents.
Holmstrom noted that a possible source of ignition was the idling rig's diesel engine, but stressed that exactly what set off the cloud may never be known for certain.
Diesel engines have been tied to earlier refinery accidents, including the devastating 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers and injured scores of others at the BP refinery at Texas City, Texas. That accident occurred when an idling diesel pickup truck drew in flammable hydrocarbon vapors and exploded, hitting trailers full of workers.

Narrow escape -
The source of the vapor plume at the Richmond refinery is believed to be an 8-inch pipe carrying super-heated hydrocarbons from the crude unit to be cooled and processed into fuel elsewhere in the facility. Repair crews were at the scene to assess what was assumed to be a minor leak in the pipe and narrowly escaped death in the Aug. 6 explosion and fire, investigators said.
Key lines of the investigation are the decision to leave the crude unit in service after the leak was discovered and the determination last fall that the 40-year-old, 8-inch pipe could be safely left in service even while a companion line was replaced because of corrosion, said Daniel Horowitz, managing director of the Chemical Safety Board.
The Chronicle reported Tuesday that Chevron considered but rejected replacing the 8-inch line last year and judged it safe for five more years. The company has said it is premature to comment on that decision, but investigators said the decision was a fateful one.
"This line was not replaced," Horowitz said. "We are very much interested in understanding the decision about why to keep this line in service - I'm sure that everybody wishes that decision might have turned out differently."
The inquiry has been hampered by limited access to the site. Investigators wearing respirators are not able to come closer than 10 feet from the ruptured pipe because of structural safety concerns. They have taken several photographs of the rupture site that show the cracked line that peeled open before the fire.

9,000 seek treatment -
Earlier in the day, Contra Costa County health officials announced that more than 9,000 people have sought emergency room medical attention for breathing problems and other health issues that might be related to the fire.
While earlier reports indicated no one had been admitted to a hospital, officials said it now appears that two or three people were hospitalized, including a girl who was admitted to Children's Hospital Oakland after reporting her asthma was made worse by smoke.
Dr. Wendel Brunner, director of public health for Contra Costa County, said many people were sickened by particulate matter in the smoke - those levels are still being studied by regional air quality regulators.
Brunner's report to the county Board of Supervisors came as a local environmental advocacy group said that it had been invited to join an investigation of the fire.
 The group, Communities for a Better Environment, said it will take part in an analysis required by overlapping industrial safety ordinances in Contra Costa County and the city of Richmond.
Greg Karras, a senior scientist with the group, said the county and city invited his group to participate in part to assure a "truly independent investigation."
His group will receive updates from local, state and federal agencies, he said, adding that an independent analyst also will be hired by Richmond, and compensated by Chevron, to review the findings.
One issue will be the extent of the pollution and fallout from the fire.
 "Our bodies measured what the government's grossly inadequate air monitoring missed: The community is the real expert on what Chevron's crude unit fire did to us," AndrĂ©s Soto, a Richmond organizer for the group, said in a statement.
In the days after the fire, thousands of people complained of eye, nose and throat irritation as well as wheezing, headaches and nausea.

Exposure levels -
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District initially said its testing found no toxic contaminants above the state's "reference exposure levels," meaning no adverse health effects would be anticipated.
But the agency later reported that one air sample showed an elevated level of acrolein, which can cause skin, eye and respiratory tract irritation. The agency said the amount of acrolein - though violating state standards - was within a range typically seen in the Bay Area.
Brunner and Randy Sawyer, the county's chief environmental health and hazardous materials officer, plan to give supervisors another update next week.
Sawyer said Tuesday that the county system that warns residents to stay indoors through automated telephone calls worked poorly, and that it was possible the vendor, CityWatch of Bloomington, Minn., would be replaced.
"It was not what we were expecting and not up to our standard," Sawyer said. "We're getting people who are saying they can do it much faster."
While the phone calls began right away, he said, the system took more than three hours to make 18,000 calls to people in a section of Richmond close to the refinery. The county believes the system should be able to make 30,000 calls in an hour, Sawyer said.
Calls to officials at CityWatch were not immediately returned.

Last night the Chron posted an article that is almost the same as today's, except for this phrase which is now missing: "Department of Public Health spokesman Ken August said.....the agency is currently preparing a cost-benefit analysis, and will take another two to three years to establish the standard." Today we get: "An agency spokesman said department officials could not comment because they had not seen the lawsuit. He also declined to explain the delay in setting the restriction." Why the change? This is an important piece of information! Was Mr. August's statement unauthorized? Is it true? Are they going to assign a dollar value to a human life like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did in its investigation of Ford and its infamous exploding Pintos in 1972?

[http://www.wfu.edu/~palmitar/Law&Valuation/Papers/1999/Leggett-pinto.html]: "Although Ford had access to a new design which would decrease the possibility of the Ford Pinto from exploding, the company chose not to implement the design, which would have cost $11 per car, even though it had done an analysis showing that the new design would result in 180 less deaths. The company defended itself on the grounds that it used the accepted risk/benefit analysis to determine if the monetary costs of making the change were greater than the societal benefit. Based on the numbers Ford used, the cost would have been $137 million versus the $49.5 million price tag put on the deaths, injuries, and car damages.

From the 1977 Mother Jones article [http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1977/09/pinto-madness]: "Ever wonder what your life is worth in dollars? Perhaps $10 million? Ford has a better idea: $200,000! Remember, Ford had gotten the federal regulators to agree to talk auto safety in terms of cost-benefit analysis. But in order to be able to argue that various safety costs were greater than their benefits, Ford needed to have a dollar value figure for the "benefit." Rather than be so uncouth as to come up with such a price tag itself, the auto industry pressured the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to do so. And in a 1972 report the agency decided a human life was worth $200,725. Furnished with this useful tool, Ford immediately went to work using it to prove why various safety improvements were too expensive to make."

The NTSA estimate, adjusted for 2012 $$$ = $1,101,961.040!
I feel so valuable!

Photos of fire at Chevron refinery in Richmond, Calif. by Mark Mason

Photo by Greg Kunit for "Labor Notes" [labornotes.org/sites/default/files/main/articles/Richmond%20Refinery%20Fire%20k_unit.jpg], posted at [http://labornotes.org/2014/03/showdown-company-town], with caption "A 2012 explosion at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, nearly killed a dozen workers who got out just in time, and sickened 15,000 residents"

Photo of fire at Chevron refinery in Richmond, Calif. - @nbcbayarea [https://twitter.com/nbcbayarea/status/232655221099208704/photo/1/large]

"Ella Baker Center for Human Rights" writes: Chevron refinery in Richmond, CA up in flames. Over 80% of residents in Richmond are people of color. We work the dirty jobs, breath the dirty air, and now more toxins pour into our neighborhood.

2012-08-06 "Chevron Refinery Fire Prompts Shelter-in-Place for Richmond, San Pablo" from "SFist"
A fire at the Chevron refinery in the city of Richmond has prompted shelter-in-place for Richmond, N. Richmond, and San Pablo. No wors as to what yet caused the fire. ABC 7 News has live footage of the blaze in progress.
The fire is sending plumes of black smoke into the air. BART is shut down at the Richmond station. We'll continue to update throughout the night. ABC 7 goes on to say that "a series of explosions...around 5 to 7" prefaced the fire, which was reported at around 6:40.
The fire as seen from Diamond Heights in San Francisco. (Photo credit: Melanie, @sfgirl)

Update: 7:05: BART service has stopped between Richmond and El Cerrito del Norte. Crews are on the scene trying to put the fire out.
Below, scene of the fire at the refinery from ABC 7 [http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/livenow?id=8763930#&cmp=twi-kgo-video-8763930]:

7:10: Shelter-in-place means that folks should stay indoors, close widows, etcetera. Main fire in suspected to be in the main processing unit where gasoline and jet fuel, it seems, are made. Also, another view of the fire in progress:
(Photo credit: Taylor Griggs, @taytay4493)

7:20: MSM has reported that the Chevron's refinery is now at level 3 HazMat order. One of the fires, however, is now out.

2012-08-06 "Fire Roaring at Chevron Refinery in Richmond" by Joe Eskenazi from "SF Weekly"
A massive plume of black smoke and flames visible even from across the bay are rising from a Richmond-area refinery.
Richmond Police confirmed the fire is at the Chevron refinery in that city, and have issued a shelter-in-place order due to the potential of hazardous chemicals now airborne. Contra Costa Health Services urges area residents to seal cracks around doors and windows with tape or damp towels.
Police were, at this time, unable to speak about the cause of the fire or confirm if it has led to any casualties. Radio reports indicate no casualties at this time.
See below a photo sent from a reader on site in Point Richmond:
And two more from San Francisco resident Albert Samaha:

And one from San Francisco resident Joe Eskenazi:

2012-08-06 "Fire Breaks Out At Richmond Refinery; Shelter-In-Place Ordered"
RICHMOND (CBS SF) – A shelter-in-place was issued for several East Bay communities after fires broke out at the Chevron refinery in Richmond Monday evening.
At least two steady eruptions of flame were visible from CBS 5 cameras. A pair of thick plumes of smoke were also rising into the skies of the East Bay.
A witness told CBS 5 that she heard explosions sometime after 6:30 p.m.
Residents or Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo were directed to stay in their homes until the situation could be resolved. The Richmond Bay Area Rapid Transit station was also closed.
An automated phone message sent out by Contra Costa Health Services stated that there has been an emergency at the refinery.
“Go inside. Close all windows and doors,” the message stated.
It advised residents to turn off heaters, air conditioners and fans, and to cover cracks around doors with tape or damp towels.
Residents are being urged to stay off the phone to keep the line free for further alerts.
As of 7:12 the flames continued to burn, but firefighters were at the scene attempting to knock it down with water.
Flames shoot out of the Chevron Refinery in Richmond (CBS)

2012-08-06 "Fire burning at Richmond refinery" from "Associated Press" newswire:
RICHMOND, Calif.—Residents in Richmond and San Pablo are being told to shelter-in-place because of fire at a Chevron refinery in Richmond.
An official with the Contra Costa County Health Services says the fire, first reported at 6:40 p.m. Monday, is burning in a process unit at the facility.
Randy Sawyer says it's not known what sparked the blaze. No injuries have been reported.
An automated phone message sent out by the health agency says that there has been an emergency at the refinery.
Television shots show large flames with thick black smoke coming out of at least two refinery stacks at the facility.

2012-08-06 "Large fire at Chevron's Richmond refinery: local authorities" from "Reuters" newswire:HOUSTON (Reuters) - Officials were warning residents near Chevron Corp's 245,271 barrel per day Richmond, California, refinery to remain indoors as a large blaze sent dangerous smoke and hazardous materials into the air, according to Contra Costa County Health Department.
KTVU-TV reported a large blaze was raging at the refinery sending a plume of black smoke into the air over the San Francisco Bay-area plant.
(Reporting By Erwin Seba in Houston and Braden Reddall in Richmond; Editing by Himani Sarkar)


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