Contra Costa Health Services announced they were notified by the Martinez Refining Company that maintenance will occur and will cause intermittent flaring.
The flaring should be visible to the surrounding community in the next few days after the announcement was made Wednesday.
According to the message by the Martinez Refining Company:
We are in the process of temporarily shutting down one of our process units at the Martinez Refinery. The shutdown process will take a few days, during which there will be intermittent flaring to ensure the unit is brought down in a safe and controlled manner, following standard procedures. Importantly, the associated flaring is primarily the clean combustion of treated process gas.
All appropriate agencies have been notified.
Following unit shutdown, our employees and contractor partners will safely conduct maintenance work over the next few weeks. Following completion of the work, we will re-start the unit, during which intermittent flaring will occur for a few days until the re-start is complete. The associated flaring with the re-start will again be primarily clean-combusting treated process gas. Prior to unit re-start, we will notify appropriate agencies and issue another community update.
As a reminder, flares are an essential part of a refinery’s integrated, engineered safety systems designed to safely manage excess combustible gases by burning them off efficiently and effectively. You can learn more about flaring on our website: https://martinezrefiningcompany.com/about-flaring/. Also, you are welcome to view real-time air monitoring measurements at our fenceline air monitoring website: http://www.fenceline.org/martinez/.
As always, we have a community inquiry phone number you can call 925-313-3777 or 925-313-3601 during off work hours. Thank you.
Information on flaring provided by the Martinez Refining Company:
What is a flare?
A flare is an integral part of the refining process also used in other industrial operations across the world. They are key safety devices to ensure the safe disposal of excess, flammable gases. Martinez Refinery’s use of the flare is strictly regulated by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), Contra Costa County Health Services Department, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Why does the refinery Flare?
The crude oil refining process generates gases that are transported throughout the refinery’s process units via a piping system. Unexpected events that cause our operating equipment, such as pumps and compressors, to shut down can lead to flaring. Such events may include a power interruption, similar to momentary power losses in our home that cause electrical alarm clocks to blink. Flaring may also occur during certain maintenance activities, including startup or shutdown of units to ensure safe operations.
how do the flares work?
When operations are interrupted by an unplanned event or a planned maintenance activity, the refinery experiences a build-up of gases in its pipelines that results in an increased pressure in the lines. The pressure must be safely relieved through approved safety devices that are connected into the flare system. The flare prevents releasing unprocessed, flammable material directly into the environment. The excess gases are combined with steam and burned to produce water vapor and carbon dioxide. This system ensures maximum combustion of hydrocarbons while minimizing emissions into the air. A pilot light at the top of each flare burns continuously so the flare is always ready when needed.
Are the flares safe?
Yes. Although flaring is necessary and an environmentally and technically sound safety measure, our refinery tries to minimize its use.
What is the black smoke?
Black smoke from the flare can occur when an insufficient amount of steam is available to help burn the hydrocarbons sent to the flare. Refinery personnel constantly watch the flare system via television monitors. If needed, they can adjust the steam flowing to the flare. In the rare instance of a sudden release of hydrocarbons to the system, there may be a delay in response before sufficient steam can be supplied to the burning process, and black smoke may be emitted.
What is the rumbling noise?
Occasionally, during flare activity, a rumbling sound much like far-off thunder, resonates from the system. The rumbling that may be heard is the result of the turbulent mixing of vapors, air and steam during the flaring process.
The BAAQMD strictly regulates emissions from the stacks and limits the density and duration of allowable smoke. Over time, the Martinez Refinery has taken a number of steps to recover and reprocess excess materials to lessen the flaring. However, when necessary, use of the flare system is still essential to the safe operation of the refinery.
We are committed to safe, reliable and environmentally responsible operations, and we are committed to minimizing flaring in our operations.
Remember – when you see the flares burning, be assured that their role is to keep the refinery operating safely.
- Dec 28 – County Supervisors Meet with Martinez Refinery Management About Safety Concerns
- Dec 26 – Contra Costa Health Conducts Inspection at Martinez Refinery
- Dec 15 – Health Advisory Issued Due to Strong Chemical Odor in Martinez
- Nov 17 – Joint Civil Enforcement Action Announced Against Martinez Refining Company
- Oct 6 – Contra Costa Health Investigating Coke Dust Release at Martinez Refining Company
- July 14 – Report Shows No Ongoing Risk to Public Health from Martinez Refinery Coke Dust Release
- July 12: Malhi Issues Statement on Latest Martinez Refining Incident
- July 11: Contra Costa Health Investigating Coke Dust Release
- June 8: Risk Assessment Finds Martinez Refinery Release Did Not Increase Risk of Exposure to Hazardous Metals in Local Soils
- May 17: Health Advisory Lifted After Weeklong Mercury Cleanup in Martinez
- May 4 – Soil Sampling Being Done Around Martinez Refinery to Assess Health Risks
- March 7 – Health Department Safety Advice on Gardening to Residents who Live Near Martinez Refinery
- Feb 24 – County Offers Gardening Tip After Spent Catalyst Possibly Made Way into Martinez Soil
- Jan 5 – Health Department Asks DA to Pursue Legal Action Against Martinez Refining Company
- Dec 31, 2022 – Martinez Refining Company Says Maintenance Work Could Result in Flaring
- Dec 23, 2022 – Martinez Refining Company Statement on Thursday Flaring
- Dec 19, 2022 – Martinez Announces Town Hall Meeting to Discuss Martinez Refining Company Incidents
- Dec 14, 2022 – Contra Costa Health Recommends an Independent Investigation of Martinez Refinery Release
- Dec 9, 2022 – Flaring Friday Night
- Nov 30, 2022 – Hazardous Materials Release at Martinez Oil Refinery Contained Heavy Metals
- Nov 29, 2022 – Test Show White Dust Released in Martinez Was “Spent Catalyst”
- Nov 28, 2022 – Ash-Like Substance Being Investigated in Martinez, Company Offers Free Car Wash