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Air Quality Deemed Safe After Richmond Refinery Fire

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Smoke rises from the scene or a fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond. (rhabarak/CBS)

Smoke rises from the scene or a fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond. (rhabarak/CBS)

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RICHMOND (CBS SF) — The air quality in western Contra Costa County was determined safe after test results for 23 petroleum-related pollutants were analyzed Tuesday after a fire at a Chevron refinery in Richmond on Monday night, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

The air quality has been tested and determined not to be a significant health concern, with potentially toxic pollutants found to be well under levels that could impact sensitive populations, the air district said in a statement.

Air samples were taken by health services officials Tuesday morning and tested for a group of 23 compounds identified by the state of California to be Toxic Air Contaminants. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District tested pollutants which are organic compounds typically found in petroleum products and also conducted additional analysis to identify and estimate concentrations of any other pollutants that might show up in significant amounts in the aftermath of the petroleum fire, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

The air district inspectors collected samples of the air and tested them in the district’s lab. Inspectors announced Tuesday afternoon that pollution levels were found to be well below the federal health standards.

The Contra Costa County Health Services tests which track hydrogen sulfate and volatile organic compounds both came up negative, said a health services spokeswoman.

The three-alarm fire broke out at 4 Crude Unit at about 6:30 p.m. and was burning strong before it was contained just before 11 p.m.

More than 500 people – more than 300 at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo and 200-plus at Kaiser Permanente in Richmond – were treated for respiratory issues.

 

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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