East Bay News

Chevron fire prompts air quality officials to seek new monitoring strategies

Thursday, October 18, 2012
Chevron refinery fire

Bay Area air quality officials Wednesday approved a plan to increase the measuring of toxic air pollutants after a massive August fire at Chevron's Richmond refinery.

During its board meeting Wednesday, Bay Area Air Quality Management District officials agreed on an updated plan to better respond to "accidental releases" from refineries and factories, according to district spokeswoman Lisa Fasano.

Under the new plan, the district over the next year will aim to complete a series of investigations and reports and devise a new rule establishing how to broaden its response to catastrophes.

The changes were prompted after the district recognized the limitations of its current air pollution monitoring systems on the heels of the Chevron refinery fire, district officials said.

The new policy is designed to reduce the risk of future accidental releases of toxins in addition to creating ways to more closely monitor air quality levels during and immediately after a catastrophe.

"This Work Plan lays out critical first steps the Air District will undertake to improve our overall response capabilities," air district executive officer Jack Broadbent said. "When fully implemented, this plan will significantly enhance our capabilities to better prepare us in the future."

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