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Refinery Report: Fire extinguished at Shell; Tesoro to pay $646,140 in fines

The Shell Martinez oil refinery in Martinez, California. The tapering vertical elements are smokestacks to create draft for heating units. Most of the complex vertical units are fractionating towers. Others are flares. (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
The Shell Martinez oil refinery in Martinez, California. The tapering vertical elements are smokestacks to create draft for heating units. Most of the complex vertical units are fractionating towers. Others are flares. (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

By E. CLARK
Martinez Tribune

Shell Martinez Refinery Fire Department responded to a report of a duct fire inside the Criterion Catalyst Plant last week. The fire was reported at approximately 2:40 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19. When fire personnel arrived, employees had already put out the fire. According to a release from Shell, the incident lasted 5-10 minutes, and no one was injured.

The week before, at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 11, Shell reported a water leak along Shell and Marina Vista avenues. By about 1 p.m. that day, a follow-up report by Shell via social media stated the leak had been fixed.

In other news from Shell, over the course of the next six months, the refinery will be performing routing maintenance work on a tank south of Marina Vista Avenue and west of Shell Avenue.

“The vast majority of the work we do should be unnoticeable to you – the tank is generally not visible from outside the refinery. You may, however, see some extra activity from time to time, or hear some occasional noise. Whenever we do heavy work, it will be during the course of normal daytime work hours,” stated a refinery release.

Shell said those with concerns or questions may call the refinery’s environmental hotline at (925) 313-3777, or during off-work hours, (925) 313-3601 with any questions or feedback.

“As with all of the work we do, our aim is to complete it in a way that does not impact our neighbors. Please let us know if we fall short of that goal,” the release stated.

Tesoro to pay fines
Tesoro Golden Eagle refinery was recently fined by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for three dozen air quality violations that occurred in 2012 and 2013. The refinery will pay $646,140 for 36 violations, most of which involved leaking equipment not promptly repaired. The refinery also exposed to the atmosphere the contents of a storage tank, violating emissions standards set by the district. Officials stated all the infractions that led to the settlement have been corrected.

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