Leak at Richmond Chevron refinery contained following a public health advisory

Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office Community Warning System issued a public health advisory due to a leak incident involving Richmond's Chevron refinery on Tuesday. 

Bay Area Air Quality Management District inspectors at the scene said 600 gallons of petroleum and water mixture leaked into the bay and that it is now contained. 

Public health advisory for portions of Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo.

The advisory was issued just before 4 p.m. Richmond Fire Department responded to the scene and confirmed there was an ongoing leak into the bay. At the time, they said the product was unknown. 

Shortly after 5 p.m. The city of Richmond put out a Nixle alert that said, "Chevron oil spill has been stopped. Clean-up is in progress."

Just before 8 p.m., the county's warning system gave an all clear regarding the public health advisory. However, beaches in the surrounding area, including Keller Beach, may remain closed. 

The health advisory was for portions of Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo. 

Officials said people with respiratory sensitivities may be affected and could have experienced eye, skin, nose or throat irritation due to the strong smell. 

Residents of Western Drive, a residential neighborhood on a hill overlooking the wharf, said they could smell a strong odor. 

"We were really worried about it. I'm a sensitive person," said Jeanette Jin, of Richmond. She's also concerned for her 91-year-old mother-in-law, who suffers medical problems. 

US Coast Guard and Department of Fish & Game are are among those who have responded. A hazmat team was taking air samples to see the effects on people in the area. Chevron Operations also responded. 

Meanwhile, National Response Center and Environmental Protection Agency - Region 9 had been notified, the fire department said. 

The initial advisory said most people would not be affected, but did not elaborate on the incident at the refinery.

A spokesperson for Chevron isssued the following statement:

"At approximately 3 p.m. today, the Richmond Refinery observed a sheen on the water near the Richmond Refinery wharf. Chevron immediately initiated its response protocol, began working to isolate and contain the release, and notified all applicable agencies. The hydrocarbon [chief components of petroleum and natural gas] release has been stopped at this time and clean-up in ongoing. Chevron is fully cooperating with authorities, including the U.S. Coast Guard and OSPR. We have issued a community notice and ask the public to remain clear of the area so crews can quickly contain and clean up the released volumes."

A Nixle alert was the first indication of what they called an oil spill in the bay along the wharf and that boats were responding. 

The fire department said there are potential offsite impacts. There are reports of oil from wharf south to Keller Beach.

Oil spill near Richmond Chevron refinery.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said on Twitter, "There is currently a 5 gallon per minute leak of a petroleum product at the Chevron Richmond Long Wharf." 

The Long Wharf is located about a mile off shore from the refinery near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. 

In an interview on KTVU, Gioia said despite containment efforts that the product had washed to the Richmond shoreline.

Chevron said two boom vessels and three skimmers were used to recover the leaked material. A contractor is on scene to continue with the clean up. 

The cause of the leak is under investigation. 

"That Long Wharf really is where petroleum products are transfered from a line or pipeline that extends from the refinery out into the Bay," said Gioia. He has been receiving information from Chevron and said the leak could have occured in the line or where there is the transfer with the ship.  

Earlier, Gioia had speculated with the information he was given and considering the estimated amount of time the leak lasted, it could have been up to 300 gallons. It ended up being twice as much, according to BAAQMD. 

Gioia said he lives in the area and spoke about the devastating impacts this could have on wildlife and that he's seen it in the past.

"I've seen injured or dead birds when this happened. This was a number of years ago," he said. 

East Bay Regional Parks District have closed parks in the area and some beaches are closed. 

Officials advised anyone who experienced any symptoms to go inside and rinse off any irritated areas of their body with water.

Contra Costa Health Services said so far nothing harmful has been detected, but neighbors are upset. One area resident said she did not get a notification of the advisory on her phone.  

Gioia said Chevron could face penalties and fines as a result of the leak. 

For more information go to http://www.cococws.us.

Oil spill near the Richmond Chevron Refinery.