SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued public nuisance violations against the Phillips 66 Refinery in Rodeo and the Yamuna Sprint oil tanker regarding an odoriferous oil sheen discovered in the San Pablo Bay in September.
The Sept. 20-21 incident prompted a shelter in place order, 1,430 odor complaints from the public and 100 hospital visits, the BAAQMD said in a news release Friday.
An investigation by the Air District and state and federal agencies determined the oil sheen matched crude oil that was being offloaded from the Yamuna Sprit to the Phillips 66 Refinery at their wharf at the time of the odor complaints.
“The Air District thoroughly investigated this incident and determined the Phillips 66 Refinery and the Yamuna Spirit oil tank operator played a role in this event and both parties will be held responsible,” Air District executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a news release.
BAAQMD communications manager Kristine Roselius said a public nuisance violation is a serious offense. The refinery and the owner of the oil tanker have 10 days to respond to the violations, she said.
“We will discuss the cause of the violations and continue the investigation to see if any changes to their operation procedures prevent it from happening again,” Roselius said.
Wayne Kino, Director of Enforcement at the Air District said the refinery and the oil tanker’s owner, Canada-based Teekay Corp., may argue it is less responsible.
Teekay Corp. said in October its underwater examination of the ship’s hull did not find leaks and nothing was amiss with the cargo lines during pressure tests.
“After extensive investigation and a successful completion of discharge, there is no evidence the oil sheen originated from the Yamuna Spirit,” the company said in a statement in October.
Phillips 66 Refinery officials said no leaks were found in the dockside equipment.
The U.S. Coast Guard in October said it could not determine exactly where the light Arabian crude oil leaked from – the ship or the refinery’s dockside equipment, but both companies will be responsible for containment and clean-up costs.
A Coast Guard helicopter discovered a sheen 40 yards wide and one mile long in the northern part of the San Pablo Bay on Sept. 20, and a second sheen was found later near the refinery.
The California Office of Emergency Services said Sutter and Kaiser hospitals in Vallejo received 100 patients and 20 other people went to other medical facilities complaining of headaches, burning eyes, nose and throat, nausea and dizziness, the Air District said.
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