Pollutants still leaking after Chevron fire

Reuters File PhotoAuthorities say that leaks from the Chevron fire causing smog-producing hydrocarbons will cease as soon as tomorrow.

Reuters File PhotoAuthorities say that leaks from the Chevron fire causing smog-producing hydrocarbons will cease as soon as tomorrow.

Smog-producing hydrocarbons are still leaking at unlawful levels at the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond in the wake of the Aug. 6 fire there, but pollution control officials said they expect to stop it by today and Chevron could face $25,000 daily fines.

“The leak has been isolated and will stop as soon as tomorrow,” said Dan Tillema, an investigator of chemical incidents for the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, during a public briefing about government inquiries into the refinery fire held Monday morning at the Richmond City Council chamber.

While the exact size of the hydrocarbon leak has yet to be verified, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District estimates that it is 5,000 parts per million, a low level still considered a violation of federal air quality standards.

“We are going to look at all of [Chevron’s] processes and all of their equipment and set the maximum penalties,” said Jack Broadbent, the district’s chief executive officer, who added that the maximum fine is $25,000 for each day pollution standards are violated.

Four separate government agencies have launched probes into the fire, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the chemical safety board and the air quality district.

Chevron is also investigating the accident.

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