Community meeting about Emergency Notification

Small SirenA community meeting to discuss the response to the recent coker fire at Phillips 66 has been announced. Refinery managers and county response officials will be on hand to take questions.

The Crockett Improvement Association will be sponsoring a Community Meeting at the Crockett Community Center on Tuesday, September 8, at 7:00 PM. Come learn about the CAER – Community Alert System; how it works and what you need to do to be safe and keep your loved ones safe in an emergency. The recent fire at Phillips 66 will be discussed. Representatives of the CAER and other agencies will be on hand. This meeting is open to citizens of Crockett, Port Costa, Tormey and Rodeo. –

Last night there was a CAP meeting at the refinery with discussion about the cause of the fire, and the response to it.  But first, some background. The “CAP” or community advisory panel is supposed to be designed as an interface with the community. If you happen to know somebody on the panel (and they are quite selective in determining who is panelist worthy), you might be able to find out what was discussed (or served for dinner), but otherwise, not so much. Here’s a link to the agenda and minutes page that I finally found by searching the site. There is no link to it from their CAP page or anywhere else I looked.  If you visit that link you will notice that the last set of minutes is from February and the last agenda is from April. So much for their “Transparency and Accountability”. But I digress…

At last night’s meeting my source tells me that refinery management claimed they didn’t call the “sensitive receptor list” when sounding the level 2 alert (meaning some offsite consequences likely) because it was deemed unnecessary, as someone at the refinery determined the fire was going to burn itself out anyway.  That is their excuse.

As I understand it, when a level 2 alert is activated, the mandated protocol at the refinery is to immediately activate the call system. There is no time to capitulate. It is not a debatable issue then or at this point whether or not the call system activation was necessary. Waiting is not an option. The refinery failed to use it when the sour water tank exploded, when it was overwhelmingly necessary. In hind sight, perhaps this time it wasn’t needed, but the lack of implementing it in a timely manner again shows the system doesn’t work. In fact, on that Sunday, nobody present at the refinery had the knowledge to activate the system.  The refinery, again, does not hold itself accountable.

The community is largely unaware of the refinery’s warning system based on comments I’ve seen on social media, and apparently the management and workers at the refinery are equally naive. I propose refinery managers do the following immediately:

  1. Let the public know the system exists through community outreach.
  2.  Allow signups on their and the county’s website.
  3. Test the system.
  4. Train the operators and managers how and when to use it.

See you at the meeting I hope.

 

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Coker fire 72 hr report

A typical "Delayed Coker"

A typical “Delayed Coker”

A 72 hour report was submitted to Contra Costa Health Services regarding Sunday’s fire in the coker at the Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo. The report states that the fire started at the top deck when an “Antifoam Day Tank” was overfilled with flammable antifoam solution.

The majority of the fire burned out within 10 minutes, and there was smoldering for about 45 minutes.  A CWS Level 2 alert was made, but the refinery thinks there were no off site impacts due to the lack of complaints and no recorded detection of chemicals leaving the site.

The report details the agencies involved and the times of notifications.  There is no mention of the CWS Level 2 “sensitive receptor” phone message system that the refinery is supposed to implement in such a case.

The investigation is not complete. There will be a 30 day report. Questions remain; what caused the overfilling? Was there another bad level sensor like the one that caused the sour gas tank explosion, or was there a faulty valve position sensor like the one that caused the huge flairing a couple of months ago, or operator error?  And WHY wasn’t the phone system activated?

The 72hr report follows…

Download (PDF, 20B)

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Fire up the irony machine…

Phillips 66 teams up with local firefighters and makes a video…

The problem is that the Rodeo firehouse was closed due to lack of funds. It took the work of local residents to convince the county that it was needed and emergency grant money was finally found by our (now absentee) supervisor so that the firehouse could reopen last year. The funding is only temporary. 

In the meantime, taxes paid by Phillips 66 to the county have dropped significantly thanks to what appear to be extremely “creative” accounting practices in the (self) valuation of their property. The county tax assessor can’t reveal the figures supplied that allow the amazing devaluation of this apparently highly lucrative enterprise.

Overall, Phillips 66 reported a profit of $1.15 billion, or $2.05 a share, up from $826 million, or $1.37 a share, a year earlier. Excluding asset-sale gains, write-downs and other items, earnings rose to $1.63 from$1.34 a share.

Phillips 66 has defended their lack of support for local fire by stating publicly that they have their own fire department which is more than sufficient.  In this “small” fire, apparently mutual aid became necessary. In fact their video talks about the importance of local fire. Where is the support?

Photo by Teagan Clive

Photo by Teagan Clive

I welcome comments of course.

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Fire at Phillips 66

This time it’s real! From the Contra Costa Times:

RODEO — A small fire Sunday at the Phillips 66 refinery spurred the county health department to issue a public health advisory for the towns of Rodeo and Crockett.

The fire began around 3 p.m. at the refinery site in the 1300 block of San Pablo Avenue, spurring a response from refinery fire staff and Rodeo-Hercules fire district firefighters, Phillips 66 spokesman Paul Adler said in a statement. No injuries were reported, and the fire’s cause is under investigation, Adler said.

Full story here.20150802_064022_firerodeo3

I got what appears to be a press release from Paul Adler, refinery spokesperson, but I cannot post it here. It contained little information anyway. This is why I can’t post it….

This message originates from Phillips 66. The message and any file transmitted with it contain confidential and proprietary information which may be a trade secret, is the intellectual property of Phillips 66, and is otherwise intended to be protected against unauthorized use consistent with the Phillips 66 Code of Business Ethics and Conduct. The information contained in this message and any file transmitted with it is transmitted in this form based on a reasonable expectation of privacy. Any disclosure, distribution, copying or use of the information by anyone other than the intended recipient, regardless of address or routing, is strictly prohibited. …

In response Paul Adler says:

This was a courtesy statement sent to members of the Phillips 66 CAP and CWG.

You may direct members of the public to call the Community Information Line at: 510-245-4070 or contact the public affairs department if they have any further inquiries.

Thank you.

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Huge flaring seen at P66

Last night it was reported that very bright flaring was seen at the Phillips 66 plant at Rodeo. A reporter on Channel 2 this morning said a there was a community alert but I see no evidence of that.

I welcome comment from the refinery. I know that they monitor this page.

CCTimes article

Edit – 9:55 AM

The following statement was released from Phillips 66

At approximately 10:15 pm Pacific time on May 18 the Phillips 66 Rodeo Refinery experienced a process interruption.

The refinery’s safety systems worked as designed to direct fuel gas to the facility’s flare, resulting in visible flaring.

There were no injuries and all personnel are safe.

The refinery continues to operate and a comprehensive investigation will be conducted to determine the exact cause.

 

Paul Adler
Manager, Communications and Public Affairs
Phillips 66 – San Francisco Refinery
paul.adler@p66.com

510-245-4400 (w)

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ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66 To Pay $11.5M Over Hazardous Waste Violations

The California Attorney General and seven participating counties announced an $11.5 million settlement Thursday with ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 for violating California’s environmental protection laws.

The San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office in January 2013 joined with the California Attorney General and six other District Attorney’s offices in bringing a civil lawsuit against ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 for violating California’s environmental protection laws by failing to properly maintain and inspect underground gasoline storage tanks at company-owned or operated gasoline stations throughout the state.

An investigation conducted into the complaint showed that the two companies caused harm to surrounding water supplies and ran afoul of California’s hazardous waste laws and hazardous materials laws as they indulged in improper storage of gasoline at 560 gasoline stations in California. The Houston-based companies denied any guilt but agreed to pay $1.5 million in legal expenses, $1 million contribution towards environmental projects in California and $9 million in civil fines.

The Alameda county district attorney Nancy O’ Malley believed that the settlement was important as it would hold all those companies responsible that breach the state’s environmental laws. California attorney general Kamala Harris was of the view that the settlement that was reached will hold oil companies responsible for posing a danger to nearby water supplies since 2006 and will go a long way in making them fall in line with environmental laws.

Ms. Harris accused the companies of breaking anti-pollution laws that pertained to their underground storage tanks. She said that ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 were both negligent in operating and maintaining their underground gasoline storage tanks. The Attorney General added that the gasoline stored in these tanks was then sold to the public.

In the complaint, the two companies are mainly accused of violating state environmental laws by not maintaining operational alarm systems, training employees in proper protocol, conducting monthly inspections, testing secondary containment systems and maintaining leak detection devices in a proper way.

The Attorney General further informed that both ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 had sold most of their stake in underground tank storage sites in California.

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Bay Area city opposes local Phillips 66 rail project

From KSBY:

Another Bay Area city has joined a growing list of those opposed to a proposed oil train off-loading facility in San Luis Obispo County. The City of San Leandro unanimously passed a resolution urging the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors to deny the project permit. If approved, the project would bring up to five, 80-car trains carrying crude oil through the county to the Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery near Nipomo each week.

Phillips 66 says rail is its only option to bring crude in from outside the state.

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Lawsuit Filed:Tar Sands Crude by Rail Project Exposed

Update 3/6/2015: Two more groups, Rodeo Citizens Association and Safe Fuel Energy Resources of California have filed to sue Phillips 66 and the county for passing the project. Please read this article.

10:00 AM WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2015; MARTINEZ, CA:  Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) sued Phillips 66 and Contra Costa County alleging illegal approvals of a tar sands refining project that could worsen pollution, climate, and refinery and rail explosion hazards, and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that hid the project from the public and failed to mitigate its significant environmental impacts.

Phillips 66 cannot meet its propane recovery objective without switching to a lower quality feedstock, like tar sands, and without other Phillips 66 projects to assist in that overall switch: these are critical project components that the EIR should have, but failed to, disclose to the public” said CBE Attorney Roger Lin.

The action follows the February 3, 2015 approvals for Phillips’ ‘Propane Recovery Project.’

At issue is environmental disclosure and mitigation for a switch to new oil feedstocks that cause the most extreme extraction, transport, and refining impacts of any petroleum known.

Phillips 66 told investors about its plan to switch over its California refineries to two of these oils—‘heavy crude’ from the Canadian tar sands region and shale oil transported by rail. However, the company sought approvals for the rail delivery, wharf delivery, processing, and byproduct propane handling changes needed to implement its plan via at least four separate environmental reviews. None of the reviews discloses the full scope of the plan, the planned change in crude feedstock quality, or the environmental impacts of this crude switch.

“Community and worker experts have shown it is the cheap-and-dirty oil project the CEO bragged about” said Greg Karras, CBE. “Lighting the fuse on this bomb could have significant impacts, and no one should be thinking about building it before that potential harm is disclosed and addressed” Karras said.

This Phillips 66 project is part of an industry-wide switch to new oil supplies that is  laying out across the region as Californian and Alaskan crude supplies dwindle. Other parts include the Kinder Morgan crude by rail terminal in Richmond and new and modified facilities to deliver and refine oils from new sources planned by Valero in Benicia, Wespac in Pittsburg,

Tesoro in Avon near Martinez, Shell in Martinez, and Chevron in Richmond. “Rodeo is already on toxic overload. Who can citizens turn to for representation or protection? Calls to BAAQMD and other authorities yielded no information or reported action around recent incidents of surprise late-night flaring, booming, and noxious odor emissions. The Board of Supervisors failed us without explanation in approving this tar sands expansion project. Things can only get worse and adding further risks to our health and safety is outrageous,” said Ann Puntch, Rodeo resident.

Before it was revised extensively and approved by the City of Richmond in 2014, Chevron’s 2008 EIR for its Richmond refinery ‘Hydrogen Renewal’ project was overturned by courts in 2009 and 2010, after CBE challenged that EIR for failure to disclose the change in crude feed density the project would enable, and failure to mitigate its potential climate impacts.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) identified a need for new regional air quality policies to ensure against increased refinery emissions from changing crude feed quality since at least 2012. But despite that admission new policy requirements have languished. A February 27, 2015 comment by 25 groups including CBE called on the BAAQMD to stop oil companies from ‘gaming’ the rules by rushing oil switch projects that could commit the region to new emissions before the needed new policy is in place. In part because of such gaps in environmental protection, EIRs are required by law to disclose and mitigate all reasonably foreseeable significant impacts of proposed projects.

CCTimes article here

The complaint…

Download (PDF, 20B)

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BOS hearing on Phillips 66 Propane recovery project Tuesday morning.

See the Contra Costa Times article here.

Excerpts…

MARTINEZ — After several postponements over a full year, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing Tuesday on a propane and butane recovery project at a Rodeo petroleum refinery that has faced stiff opposition from some local residents as well as regional and national environmental groups.

The board of supervisors will meet at 9 a.m.Tuesday, in Room 107 of the County Administration Building, 651 Pine St., Martinez.

It will be one of the first items on the agenda, so it should be finished by about 10:30.

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Phillips 66 profits were $1.15 billion for last quarter of 2014

As reported by the Wall Street Journal

Phillips 66 posted better-than-expected earnings and revenue in its fourth quarter as the refinery company benefits from the flood of cheap crude oil that has sent oil prices tumbling.

As oil prices have plummeted since last summer, U.S. refiners have been sucking up as much of the abnormally inexpensive crude as they can, turning it into gasoline, diesel and other fuels. Phillips 66’s U.S. refinery margins have been buoyed by the cheap oil from places like North Dakota and Texas.

In the latest quarter, Phillips, which was spun off from ConocoPhillips in 2012, said it processed a record 375,000 barrels of tight oil a day in the quarter. About 95% of the company’s U.S. crude slate was advantaged in the quarter, unchanged from the third quarter’s record rate.

Meanwhile, total expenses fell 19.7% to $34.25 billion as the company’s crude oil and products costs fell 23%.

Overall, Phillips 66 reported a profit of $1.15 billion, or $2.05 a share, up from $826 million, or $1.37 a share, a year earlier. Excluding asset-sale gains, write-downs and other items, earnings rose to $1.63 from $1.34 a share.

Revenue fell 18.8% to $35.61 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a per-share profit of $1.37 and revenue of $35.2 billion.

While Phillips 66 had earned most of its profits from refining, its chemical production business has recently taken on a larger role.

The chemicals segment, which includes its interest in Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC, posted a 2.3% increase in earnings to $267 million in the latest quarter.

Earnings for the refining segment, meanwhile, grew 23.7% to $517 million.

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