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Black smoke clouds air over Chevron Richmond refinery as power loss triggers flaring incident

Flaring at Chevron Richmond refinery sends massive plume of smoke over region
Flaring at Chevron Richmond refinery sends massive plume of smoke over region 06:49

RICHMOND -- Flaring activity at the Chevron Richmond refinery Monday afternoon due to a loss of power at part of the facility has sent a large cloud of black smoke over the region.

A Facebook post by the Chevron Richmond account shortly after 4 p.m. confirmed that the workers at the facility were attempting to "quickly to minimize and stop the flaring." The post said a "Community Warning System (CWS) Level 1" was issued due to smoke and the visible flaring. This type of warning does not require action by the public, the post said.

A representative from Contra Costa Health (CCH) confirmed that Chevron Richmond notified them about the flaring due to "an unplanned unit shutdown" at about 3:30 p.m. CCH said it was sending a hazardous materials team to the refinery to investigate, but no shelter-in-place order has been issued in connection with the incident.  

KPIX chief meteorologist Paul Heggen said the smoke plume is blowing to the west. According to the EPA and Purple Air monitors, there has not been a dramatic decline of ground-level air quality.  

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has not issued an alert regarding the incident and was currently showing the air quality to be moderate in the area around the refinery. District officials confirmed that their inspectors were investigating at the refinery and that they were "documenting any violations of air quality regulations and assisting first responders." 

The district initially said four complaints were received as of around 4:30 p.m. As of an hour later, 51 complaints had been submitted.

Chevron Richmond flaring
Chevron Richmond flaring KPIX

Richmond Fire officials are also at the scene and monitoring air quality.

The company said in an update on its Facebook page shortly before 9 p.m. that employees had stopped the flaring, but intermittent flaring could still occur as the refinery is brought back up to full production.

Chevron Richmond encouraged residents who live in the area to visit to view real-time air quality data.

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