Flaring at Richmond Chevron refinery exceeded state limit on NYE

Flaring at the Richmond Chevron refinery from July 24. 

 By Bay City News Service

Flaring exceeded a state limit on New Year's Eve at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, a spokesman for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said this afternoon.

Because the flaring exceeded the limit and because a resident filed a complaint, air district officials will investigate the flaring more quickly to be sure the company minimizes its flaring in the future, air district spokesman Tom Flannigan said.

The flaring Sunday occurred at about 8:30 p.m. and then again briefly Monday when the flaring did not exceed any limits.

The state, federal government and the air district each set their own limits on flaring.

Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall said flaring is meant to burn off vapors safely and he directed people to www.fenceline.org/richmond to see real-time measures of air quality.

"We recognize the sight of flares may cause concern, but we want to assure the community that flares are a highly regulated safety device monitored by the air district, used in refineries to relieve pressure," the company said in a statement.

Earlier today, Flannigan said the flaring didn't trigger any alerts but this afternoon the air district received a report from Chevron saying the flaring exceeded a state limit.

A spokesperson for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Management was not immediately available to say what the limit is, but the flaring burned off 541 pounds of sulfur dioxide.

While Sunday's flaring exceeded state limits, it did not exceed air district or federal limits.

Like Reddall, Flannigan said flaring is a safety measure, which is used to burn off excess fuels. But the air district does not want to encourage flaring, according to Flannigan.

The resident's complaint said that they saw flaring and a puff of smoke.

Flannigan said air district officials were planning to follow up with Chevron because of the complaint, but now the follow up will occur before the end of the month.