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Unsafe Pollutant Levels Found In Richmond Refinery Fire; Initial Readings Wrong

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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) — Air quality officials said their initial measurements of pollutants from the Chevron refinery fire in Richmond Monday were wrong.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District said its original statement that air samples taken from Monday’s fire showing pollutants were at levels deemed safe by federal environmental officials was “incorrect.”

On Thursday, district officials said those air samples actually revealed trace amounts of acrolein that are above levels considered safe by federal officials.

Acrolein is an oxygenated hydrocarbon similar to ethanol and is often found throughout the Bay Area above levels deemed safe by federal officials, according to the district.

Air quality officials said particulate matter emitted during the fire Monday was likely what caused Richmond and other area residents to suffer respiratory problems.

(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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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