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Health officials report coke dust releases from Martinez refinery again

PIX Now Morning Edition 7-23-23
PIX Now Morning Edition 7-23-23 09:35

MARTINEZ --- Contra Costa Health said it was notified of a release of coke dust from Martinez Refining Co. on Saturday night.

This is the second release in just 11 days.

Contra Costa Health and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said it was released just after 6 p.m. on Saturday, but they didn't find any evidence from the release in surrounding neighborhoods.

The first release happened on July 11. MRC Reported a coke release that dropped on cars, and other surfaces near the refinery.

On July 15, lab results found the dust didn't contain high levels of toxic metals.

MRC said coke dust primarily contains carbon, and is chemically similar to charcoal. Some of the health concerns, according to the health department, include throat, lungs and respiratory system irritation.

MRC came under fire last year for releasing 20-24 tons of spent catalyst starting Thanksgiving night and continuing until the next day.

In that instance, MRC didn't notify CCH. Health officials found out from media reports the following Saturday.

The spent catalyst was comprised of elevated levels of aluminum, barium, chromium, nickel, vanadium, and zinc, all of which can cause respiratory problems. 

A toxicologist hired by the county said in June that the November release didn't increase public health risks from exposure of hazardous materials in nearby soil.  

However, that didn't account for any effects the release may have had on humans who breathed in the dust during the release and in the immediate days afterward, county officials said.

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