Monday, August 6, 2012

Explosions, huge chemical fire at Chevron refinery in Richmond CA

I watched this happen live today on TV at about quarter to 7pm, then went outside to see it for myself.  This is the worst refinery emergency anyone here can remember.  Pray for those in the East Bay who are now ordered to shelter in place.  These are harmful volatile organics burning.

Things about this that make me go hmmm:  The explosions started happening around 18:40 and fire continues now that it is dark, so the smoke plume cannot be tracked as it travels through the night.  People are calling in to local radio stations reporting they have had no warnings, and the air is sooty and bad smelling, their lungs sting, and some are having trouble breathing.  Their eyes and mouths sting, their breath is being sucked out of their lungs.  And NO WARNINGS are being given.  As far as I can tell only the most immediate areas of Richmond and San Pablo have been ordered to shelter in place.  Berkeley, Albany, and Oakland residents can now smell and feel the effects of the smoke and are continuing to report they have had no warnings.  If they are not tuned into the news on TV then people have no idea what is going on.

Emergency rooms in Richmond and San Pablo are now jammed with people complaining of breathing problems.  Some have passed out.  BART and bus services have stopped in the Richmond and San Pablo areas, and in some Berkeley areas.  The toll booths of the Richmond bridge are vacant.

Chevron now says it is a diesel fuel fire, where a diesel fuel leak came into contact with something hot enough to ignite it.

Chevron's Richmond refinery, the largest refinery in California, is under a Level 3 Hazardous Material extreme immediate warning with local authorities advising local citizens to "to shelter in place, go inside, close all windows and doors, turn off all heaters, air conditioners and fans. If not using the fireplace, close fireplace dampers and vents, and cover cracks around doors and windows with tape or damped towels." As KTVU2 comments, it appears massive and out of control currently. 

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