California health officials investigating petroleum spill at Chevron oil refinery

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The Contra Costa Health Department is investigating a petroleum spill in the San Francisco Bay from a wharf owned by a Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, California.

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Contra Costa County supervisor John Gioia tweeted Tuesday evening that the refinery's pipeline was leaking approximately five gallons per minute, and that Chevron and the county fire officials were on scene and in process of booming the leak.

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According to a statement posted to Twitter by Chevron Richmond, the refinery first noticed the leak at approximately 3 p.m., which was immediately isolated and has since been stopped.

"Chevron immediately initiated its response protocol, began working to isolate and contain the release, and notified all applicable agencies," the oil giant said. "The hydrocarbon release has been stopped at this time and clean-up is ongoing. Chevron is fully cooperating with authorities, including the U.S. Coast Guard and OSPR."

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CVXCHEVRON CORP.90.95-0.55-0.60%
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A community notice has been issued, and Chevron Richmond is asking the public to remain clear of the area so crews can "quickly contain and clean up the released volumes." The cause of the leak is currently unknown.

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Contra Costa Health Services said its hazardous materials team is currently conducting "air monitoring to assess potential community impacts."

"Please avoid the area if possible," the agency added. "People with pre-existing respiratory conditions should consider staying indoors as a precaution against strong odors."

The health advisory impacts residents in Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo. While noting the incident "could affect individuals with respiratory sensitivities," officials say most people are expected to be unaffected. However, eye, skin, nose or throat irritation may be possible for some people in the affected area. Anyone who experiences any irritation should go inside and rinse any irritated area of their body with water.

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