Bay Area Air Quality Management investigates Chevron flare

Bay Area Air Quality Management investigates Chevron flare
Flames and smoke were visible Monday afternoon following a power outage at the Chevron Refinery. Photos/Linda Hemmila

A statement issued by Bay Area Air Quality Tuesday morning said they are currently investigating a level one incident that occurred at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond Monday afternoon, which led to unplanned flaring and smoke visible to many around the Bay Area.

"On November 28, 2023, at 8:00 am, the Air District staff spoke with Chevron and were informed that flaring ceased at 02:03 am. Chevron does expect additional flaring to occur as they normalize operations following the event. This is the reasoning for CWS Level 1 for intermittent flaring reported on November 28, 2023, at 8:04 am," the statement said.

According to Chevron representatives, the incident was caused by a power outage in the plant that led to flaring, which lasted several hours while their crews worked to make repairs and restore power.

"BAAQM teams were on site at the refinery shortly after the flaring began Air District staff was in communication with Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) during the event. Conta Costa County informed Air District staff they requested a 72-hour report from Chevron for this event," the statement said.

Air District staff remained onsite into the late evening, monitoring the situation and responding to additional air quality complaints, which, according to the statement, included "alleged flaring, fire, smoke, and odors related to the event."

As of Tuesday morning, the total number of air quality complaints received was about 100, the statement said.

Chevron offered an update Tuesday about the flaring and ongoing work at the refinery.

"Power has been restored, and flaring activity remains stopped. While we work diligently to avoid it, future intermittent flaring is a possibility as we continue to make operational adjustments. Chevron takes safety and environmental protections seriously. We are investigating the cause of the power failure and will implement any necessary and applicable preventive measures to avoid similar situations from occurring in the future," spokesperson Caitlin Powell said.

The Air District’s investigation of this event is ongoing, and additional updates will be provided when further information is available.

Since 2014, Chevron Richmond has funded an independently operated community air monitoring program designed in partnership with the Richmond community and the City of Richmond. The program collects data from three areas along Chevron Richmond’s fenceline and three neighborhood stations nearby. The air monitoring data is available to the public 24 hours a day.

Chevron Richmond - Home
Chevron Fenceline monitoring data from Monday, November 27, 2023, at 6 pm.

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