Health Reviews

Benicia Still Looking for Answers from Valero Six Months After Refinery Outage

When an enormous refinery outage despatched flames, black smoke and poisonous fuel taking pictures into the sky from Valero’s Benicia plant ultimate spring, the town’s mayor mentioned the native govt had little details about what was once occurring.

Days later Mayor Elizabeth Patterson known as for the town to increase laws that will give Benicia extra oversight over the oil large it hosts. She proposed laws very similar to the ones in Contra Costa County, house to a number of refineries, that require oil refining amenities to go through protection audits and percentage their possibility control plans.

The ones laws can be a part of an Commercial Protection Ordinance (ISO) that will require Valero to offer Benicia with extra information about its plant.

However six months after one the Bay Space’s worst refinery malfunctions within the ultimate 5 years, the refinery oversight measure has no longer moved throughout the Town Council. And consistent with Mayor Patterson and Councilman Steve Younger, Valero has no longer equipped the town with sufficient knowledge.

“They have given the Council nothing. They have given the public nothing,” mentioned Patterson.

“The City has still not received a report from Valero and has instead had to rely on media reports from KQED and others,” Younger mentioned in an electronic mail. “Significant questions remain unanswered.”

Valero rejects the perception that it has no longer been approaching.

“We find Mayor Patterson’s statements puzzling,” mentioned corporate spokeswoman Lillian Rioijas in an electronic mail. “We’ve been very up front and open with the city as well as other regulators about what we know.”

The Would possibly five outage resulted in shelter-in-place and evacuation orders during the town and no less than a dozen other folks sought scientific remedy for respiring difficulties.

The refinery launched greater than 80,00 kilos of sulfur dioxide at the day of the outage and within the weeks later on.

Two investigations, one through California’s Department of Occupational Protection and Well being (Cal/OSHA) and some other through the Solano County Environmental Well being Department, cleared Valero of wrongdoing. Every other probe, through the Bay Space Air High quality Control District, is but to be finished.

Town officers best changed into acutely aware of the county’s investigative findings after KQED got them and requested for a remark, consistent with Patterson.

The mayor says an commercial protection ordinance would get the town that roughly knowledge at once.

Patterson and a coalition of native environmental and group teams need the town to transport ahead on an commercial protection ordinance.  A the town corridor assembly to coach the general public at the proposal is scheduled for Tuesday evening.

The ordinance would permit Benicia to audit Valero’s protection plans and participate in inspections of its refinery.

Valero is lobbying towards the proposal.

“A local ISO would not have prevented this power outage,” Don Wilson, the refinery’s vp and normal supervisor wrote the Council in a letter in June. “A local ISO will be costly and duplicative of existing state and and local programs,” Wilson mentioned.

The corporate has blamed Pacific Fuel and Electrical and has sued the San Francisco-based software, in search of $75 million in damages and misplaced income.

“Let’s remember, PG&E abruptly shut off all power to the refinery without any notice,” mentioned Riojas, the Valero spokeswoman.

PG&E employed a 3rd celebration to analyze the outage. That record has been submitted to the California Public Utilities Fee.

In October California followed new statewide refinery oversight laws. Refineries at the moment are required to undertake protection designs and techniques, habits periodic administrative center protection tradition exams and examine reasons of great refinery malfunctions.

Councilman Younger, Councilman Tom Campbell and Terry Schmidtbauer, the director of Solano County’s Division of Useful resource Control, which conducts audits at the refinery, say they’re unclear on whether or not a town ordinance would upload the rest the state’s new laws don’t already duvet.

“An ISO may be a great idea but I don’t want it to somehow get in the road of other already existing state and federal regulations,” mentioned Councilman Campbell in an electronic mail.

“My only hesitation revolves around my desire not to have an ordinance that overlaps with recent Cal-OSHA requirements,” mentioned Younger.

Mayor Patterson says an area ordinance would pass additional: it will require Valero to record details about a refinery malfunction and the corporate’s proposed movements to forestall a equivalent incident at once to the town.

“The ISO would give us a seat at the table,” Patterson mentioned.

Tuesday’s the town corridor assembly takes position on the Benicia Public Library at 7 p.m.

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