An oil spill at Chevron’s oil refinery in Richmond, California has dumped approximately 600 gallons of petroleum into the San Francisco Bay. The spill is believed to have started at 2:40 p.m. on Tuesday, only to be noticed at 3 p.m. The leak was eventually contained at about 4:30 p.m., and cleanup is ongoing.
“It smelled like somebody spilled gasoline in front of my house. It smelled very very badly for [the] whole day,” local resident Margaret Berczynski told ABC7-KGO. “I’m really devastated. I cannot take my kids to the water… I’m really scared.”
Meanwhile, officials at Chevron are still determining the cause of the leak. Investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard, California Office of Spill Prevention and Response, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Contra Costa County are also involved. Chevron says that other agencies interested in joining the investigations are welcomed.
“We understand that the source is no longer pouring out into the bay, but there is product in the bay,” Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Specialist Maria Dulazo told KCBS Radio. “They do have a containment boom and they are working to contain that to minimize the spread of the sheen and the petroleum product.”
Officials are warning locals that the fumes could cause throat, ear and nose irritation.
“It is unacceptable to have this happen in our community,” said John Gioia, Contra Costa County Supervisor. “It causes harm to people’s health. It causes harm to birdlife, wildlife, and marine life.” Although Chevron officials are still working on an estimate of how much oil leaked, Gioia has estimated that the leak released at a rate of 5 gallons per minute.
Previous oil spills have led to massive deaths of fish and aquatic plants. At this time, there are no reports of fish deaths following Tuesday’s incident.
Image via ArtBrom