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Bay Area Air Quality District Investigates Flaring at Chevron Richmond Refinery

RICHMOND (CBS SF) -- The Bay Area Air Quality Management District said Friday it has launched investigations and increased scrutiny of Chevron's Richmond refinery as a result of several recent flaring incidents.

The most recent flaring incident was Wednesday, following ones in January and February. The air district said in a news release that they resulted from electrical power failures during heavy rain storms, along with the rollout of a new hydrogen plant.

"Six of the eight 2018 flaring events at Chevron burned hydrogen, which burns very cleanly," the air district said. "Each of these flaring events are currently being investigated."

Said air district Executive Officer Jack Broadbent: "We are closely monitoring flaring at the refinery and investigating each event to ensure public health is protected."

Flaring is the process of burning gases that would otherwise be directly released to the atmosphere and is designed to protect the public, refinery workers and refinery equipment, according to the air district.

Chevron is required to submit a report that details the cause of each incident and provides measures, subject to air district approval, to prevent recurrent flaring, the agency said. Chevron is required to provide the reports to the air district within 60 days from the end of the incident month.

Chevron said in a social media post during Wednesday's flare that the incident followed a power outage and that "no offsite environmental or public health impacts are anticipated."

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