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Unplanned Chevron Flare-Up Shoots Flame Skyward

Radio transmissions indicate a fire within the plant, bringing L.A. County fire personnel to cover for El Segundo's two fire stations.

Updated 8:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.

A call to the Chevron 24-Hour Community Hotline yielded little information about the flame and smoke coming from the refinery in El Segundo Sunday around 6:30 p.m.

Lily Craig, a spokersperson for Chevron, at 7:45 p.m. told Patch the flare-up was caused by a "major process upset" and that there'd been an "emergency shutdown." She said the situation began around 5:50 p.m.

A radio transmission at 6:56 p.m. indicated that a fire within the plant had been "knocked down" and the flare subsided, but it could be "reactivated."

Rod Spackman, the plant's manager of public affairs and government, around 8 p.m. told Patch there had been no fire in the plant, however, El Segundo Fire Department Battalion Chief Breck Slover said there had been a "small ground fire" when cleaning fluid in drums was ignited.

Radio transmissions during the situation indicated a "top actually blew off" and power lines were down inside the refinery. 

Slover said one of the processors "blew the top of the tower," causing a "dislodgement" that "knocked power lines down."

Spackman told Patch the plant "lost one gasoline process making unit" which resulted in a "pretty significant" flare-up that "obviously created quite a nuisance this evening."

The "elevated safety flare" with a "significant amount of flaring" is "there to allow us to safetly depressure a plant," Spackman said.

Spackman said plant operators did not know if power lines had come down as reported on radio transmissions, but said a loss of power "may be part of why the unit came down." Plant officials expected to know if loss of power was a factor Monday morning.

According to Manhattan Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Ken Shuck, Chevron "had some kind of plant disruption" and the "product had gone to flare."

Shuck said, "The whole flare process is their [Chevron's] built-in safety."

The woman who answered the phone on the Chevron 24-Hour Community Hotline reported receiving many phone calls about the situation, saying, "I'm not sure what is going on right now." She couldn't say whether or not the situation was a threat to public safety.

Craig told Patch the situation was not a threat to public safety.

Radio transmissions indicated Los Angeles County fire trucks were being dispatched to cover the two fire stations in El Segundo, presumably while those firefighters responded to the incident at Chevron.

ESFD's Slover said that had been the case and that the Manhattan Beach Fire Department and Los Angeles County units were called in to stage near or at the plant as well.

Manhattan Beach Police Department Watch Commander Sergeant Matt Sabosky said the flare was "burn off" and the flare-up was "a very routine thing that happens over there."

A call to El Segundo Fire Station #1 went unanswered during the incident but station personnel were later reachable by phone.

Both Chevron and ESFD reported no injuries.

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Jeff Cohn January 17, 2013 at 07:25 AM
I want $20 for a gallon of gas. Total disruption of old markets to spur innovation. Wipe out destructive companies and a broken political system. The Federal Reserve is asking for hyper inflation with their destructive 0 interest rate policies. Short term pain for long term gain.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 07:35 AM
Your comments on oil subsidies show you don't really understand the nature of a subsidy, how much those subsidies amount to relative to total industry capital investment, what form these subsidies take, why they are in place, who benefits (a large chunk goes to subsidized home heating for poor families, for example, other parts are for coal). You appear to believe, by calling on the GM analogy, that the oil industry survives only because of government largesse. This is silly, as the subsidies in their various forms are a very small percentage of total US industry revenues, income, and/or capital investment. So I'm not going to address this because I think you lack the sophistication for any meaningful and rational discussion on the topic. As your somewhat wild speculation about the moto-utopia would ensue from the collapse of GM shows. Crappy cars that use too much gas are made because we are buying them. How many Volts and Tesla's do you see around? No one really wants them. Priuses though are successful. People want them. No big oil or big auto company stopped Toyota from making them. Again, you're thinking here is doctrinaire, and you fail to appreciate human incentives and demand. You believe that big bad companies are foisting bad cars on poor ignorant people. That doesn't explain the success of hybrids, and I think that people are smarter than you give them credit for. Jeff, the world is a bit more complicated than a simple conflict between good guys and bad guys.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 07:44 AM
Finally, your last point. This is very naive and shows a fundamental lack of market realities and incentives. First, there is demand for clean energy NOW. The Prius, insulation improvement, energy improvements in appliances, LED and CF lightbulbs. The list goes on. It's just that the price has to be affordable and seen to be good value. Second, the government is not in anyone's way. Google "renewable energy subsidies" and you'll find hundreds or even thousands of programs at local though federal levels. Third, investment is huge. As of a several years ago renewables accounted for over 10% of US venture capital investment and with higher oil prices that percentage is surely higher. No governments are stopping this. Fourth, individual incentives are enormous. The company that develops a competitive alternative to fossil fuels will become wealthy, and heroes to boot. Even oil companies are doing R&D in alternatives. You, of course, being an ideologue, will claim (without any evidence!) that it's window dressing. But for them it's R&D, and not their fields of expertise. Let me ask you a question, Jeff. Suppose you were CEO of a major oil company. Your R&D group developed a clean alternative that would enable your company to take OPEC's market share away from them, and increase your global energy market share by a factor of 20. You'd have a patent and reduced competition at least for a while. Why wouldn't you want to do this?
Jeff Cohn January 17, 2013 at 07:53 AM
Type in the word "fracking" as a search into http://drillingmaps.com. They are facts of real people who have suffered. Air pollution, water contamination and toxic gases.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 07:56 AM
Here is the reality, from Frankfurt School's UNEP Center: "Global investment in renewable power and fuels increased 17% to a new record of $257 billion in 2011. Developing economies made up 35% of this total investment, compared to 65% for developed economies. The US closed in on China in the race to be the lead investor in Renewable Energy, with a 57% leap in its outlays to $51 billion. India however, displayed the fastest expansion rate for investment of any large renewables market in the world in 2011, with a 62% increase to $12 billion. One of the dominant features of the Renewable Energy landscape in 2011 was falling technology costs. Photovoltaic module prices fell by close to 50%, and onshore wind turbine prices by around 10%. These changes brought these two leading renewable power technologies closer to competitiveness with fossil-fuel alternatives such as coal and gas. The other key feature was a weakening in policy support for Renewable Energy in many developed countries. This reflected austerity pressures, particularly in Europe, and legislative deadlock in the US Congress." There is a lot of investment already, because investors worldwide can see the rewards and know the technology. Governments are not blocking this progress. Uninformed guys posting on blogs will not contribute to the solution, but rather by spreading misconceptions make things worse. Too many people merely believe. Not enough conclude.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 08:03 AM
Seriously? This was a map of LA Basin drilling, power plant, refinery, issue, etc sites. No frack icon provided. Typing "fracking" in the search window revealed "not found". Selecting Fracking activity on the menu reveled the same map as your link. I would like to see 1) Specific, documented cases where fracking has harmed groundwater (tracking, not a frack fluid spill). 2) The percentage of wells where there was an incident as a percentage of all fracked wells. 3) The percentage of aquifer water damaged relative to total in place water. Next, I'll show you a map where plane crashes have occurred. Let's plan plane flights, shall we? 1100 lives per year lost.
Jeff Cohn January 17, 2013 at 08:10 AM
Its a geo location map. You hit locate and not search. Try it on a Mac or PC for best experience. 1000 locations will come up. Mobile site is work in progress.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 08:26 AM
This instruction, on a Mac with safari, produced no result. No response. How is it that Lisa Jackson, the head of the EPA, did not know about all of this when she testified to congress last year that the process had no known incidents? You should tell her. I would really like to have better documentation than points on a map, please. There are many people who would uncritically and unhesitatingly make such claims. Look at Erin Brockovich, whose case was thrown out of court.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 08:28 AM
If I told you I felt sick from a well and gave you the location, what procedure would you follow to support my claim? or would you just post it no questions asked?
Joel Cooper January 17, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Richard,you are good,unemotional,articulate and obviously very well versed on the subject. Jeff,please keep it up,we're all learning so much.
Jeff Cohn January 17, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Lisa Jackson of the EPA was probably not required to look beyond her bureaucratic legal department to fully understand the facts of water contamination. Want to get a visual understand of how casing failures can contaminate ground water see this link. http://www.nobpinhb.com/2012/10/what-is-horizontal-shale-oil-drilling.html. Want to understand through data why Chevron of MB is a huge polluter look here. http://manhattanbeach.patch.com//articles/chevron-just-north-of-manhattan-beach-in-ca-top-5-releasers-of-chemicals-epa#photo-12999914
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 07:57 PM
Your comment on Lisa Jackson leaves a lot to be desired. If an expert has a different opinion, that you don't have the qualifications or expertise to debate on technical merits, well then, just dismiss her out of hand. Go for the deus ex machina argument. She's lazy! She's dishonest! "Probably not required"? I think an informed public deserves a better answer than this. Don't you? And what about Steven Chu? Head of the DOE and nobel prize calber researcher... "probably not required" to check it out, he's also lazy? And what about the UK Royal Academy of Engineering's in depth study involving hundreds of wells and detailed engineering study? No comment. So your approach is clearly this. Someone disagrees with me, they're either lazy or dishonest. This, in my opinion, is hubris. And this, in my opinion, is not doing the public a service.
Jeff Cohn January 17, 2013 at 08:13 PM
@Richard Kneff The next time I need to hire an "expert deflector" aka "lawyer" I will be sure to call you. Sleep well my friend.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 08:15 PM
I suppose I could give you a link to airline crashes and mangled bodies. I could give you a link to lives lost in the film industry. What good is that? Don't you think context is important? We all know what the risk of an airline crash is, so we would visit such a link with context in mind. We wouldn't be saying "Oh! Let's ban air travel! Evil airline companies! People are being killed!" But this is precisely what you're doing with this link. In fact, the link is technically illiterate and permeated with technical errors, such as: "More black tar and oil on our beaches " Really? Why? What's the risk? You have no idea. This is just a shoot from the hip statement. "Hole is drilled just under the deepest fresh water source from the surface." Really? What is the depth of the fresh water aquifer? What is the depth of the producing formation? "Cement sealing always fail and thus why fracking contaminates water underground" Extravagantly false. Mind numbing technical illiteracy. When casing fails, a well is lost and must be redrilled. About 7-8 million wells have been drilled in the US, over 1 million fracked. How many have failed? Where's your data? Are you saying all 7-8 million had to be redrilled? Astonishing ignorance, and grossly irresponsible. "Hydraulic fracturing has huge safety issues under pressure" Technical illiteracy again. From a well engineering standpoint, this statement has no meaning.
Jeff Cohn January 17, 2013 at 08:26 PM
@ Richard Kneff So we should just ignore these reported locations (see map link) of ground water contamination, methane and other toxic chemicals? We should ignore cancer clusters? We should ignore asthma clusters? Dallas / Fort Worth, part of Wyoming and Colorado now have more air pollution from oil and gas drilling than from cars. Should we ignore that as well. Here is the fracking map that you could not seem to figure out. http://twitter.com/drillingmaps/status/292004010414702593/photo/1 Might I as what is your expertise besides arguing and deflecting?
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 08:31 PM
As to your link to Chevron refinery pollution.... of course. It's a huge refinery. The relevant question is, are they doing anything illegal? The government sets emission standards. Is Chevron out of compliance? Then you have an argument. Are they in compliance? Then you've only pointed out that a big refinery is a large polluter in MB. Who else do you think the largest polluter in MB might be? CPK? If Chevron is in compliance, then you've created a false argument. I will respect such comments from you when you stop driving and polluting our air. When you stop eating food harvested and delivered to market in trucks. When you stop living and working in buildings whose raw materials were processed and delivered to you in fossil fuel powered vehicles. When you stop using plastics, medicines, and heating fuels. What you're doing is criticizing those who provide your fuels, for delivering the fuels you demand. That seems intellectually dishonest to me. We could of course demand zero pollution from refineries. But at what cost? It would mean disastrously expensive fuels. And you have not the slightest idea how to achieve this goal, what it would cost, or what the implications would be. As someone in a public forum, I believe you have a responsibility to be objective and give the public information that is correct, and to inform competently on risks, alternatives, costs, and implications of the policies you encourage. You have failed to do this.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 08:36 PM
One more thing, Jeff. E&B has gone public saying that they were NOT going to frack these wells. What information do you have that says they are? I think you have this vague idea that "Oh, well oil companies are now fracking and I'm sure E&B will too!" But fracking is not always an effective technology. Certain geologic conditions must be met, and certain well performance issues have to be taken into consideration. Do you know what these conditions and issues are, Jeff?
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 08:43 PM
The expected response. No substance. Ad hom attack. What else are you going to do, discuss issues on technical merits? But you can't do this, so what else can you do? Ad homs. Very impressive!
Jeff Cohn January 17, 2013 at 08:50 PM
I am an an expert at gathering data through crowdsourcing and public sources. I will leave it up to the engineers and PhDs using our database to interpret the data. Just wait you will see.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 08:59 PM
We should not ignore anything, and I have never claimed that. We should investigate objectively. If we find a problem, we should learn how to mitigate it. What caused the problem? Can regulations help? Was it an errant operator? Was it a spill, having nothing to do with tracking? Etc. None of these questions interest you in your single minded zealotry. I could not figure out your "tracking map" because was not a fracking map. It was a hodge-podge of well locations, refineries, etc. It's not a definitive map of where fracking is occurring. Your new link shows where complaints have been logged. Are they valid? You don't care. You just accept that they are. If you took that "fracking map" to a judge, would he throw people in jail on that basis? Preposterous. You have a map where anonymous people can just add points online. He'd want proof. So why can't you supply some? You just cite stuff as if we should all take whatever you say for granted. Show me for example, where these cancer clusters are, and the technical evidence that they are indeed caused by malicious or negligent operations. Forget my expertise, and address the points and questions I raise. You do not, because you cannot. You have no expertise. So you go for the personal angle. This is dishonest and irresponsible. You have not addressed a single question or issue I raised in any competent way. You have incorrectly rephrased my statements. Your commentary is riddled with technically illiterate babble.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 09:15 PM
So you admit to knowing nothing at all about oil field operations, yet insist that the industry is irresponsible. You wait for technical people to confirm your prejudice. That's a remarkable position to take, and in my view intellectually dishonest. And what if the experts (such as the Royal Academy of Engineers, or Stanford's geophysicist Mark Zoback, or Steven Chu, Nobel prize winning physicist) find that you're wrong? Will you admit it? You won't, because this is how ideologues think. You'll ignore THOSE engineers and PhD's, and cherry pick the ones who might agree with you. And you'll probably ignore the backgrounds and political biases of your "experts." What if confirmed problems are incidents that could be easily avoided, or have nothing to do with fracking? There are about 14,000 oil companies in the US. What if just 3 were found to have been negligent? What if 4 wells out of a million were found to have leaked casing? Ban the entire industry? Claim they're all irresponsible? Ludicrous. Prejudiced people are usually unaware that they're prejudiced.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Jeff, as an expert in gathering data, have you gathered any data at all which challenge your views? or are you just searching for data to reinforce your views. The former is legitimate research. The latter is junk science.
Jeff Cohn January 17, 2013 at 10:01 PM
AP: EPA Buried Fracking Evidence at Drilling Company’s Behest http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/busted_epa_buried_fracking_evidence_at_drilling_companys_behest_20130116/?ln
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 10:16 PM
1) Allegations posted by a news source with obvious bias. We don't hear the other side of the story (or do you think certain groups and individuals should not be allowed to testify in their own defense?). From the terms used, the journalist obviously has absolutely zero technical expertise. If I publish a news story that a minority youth is thought to be guilty by his neighbor and I've found evidence, would you as judge throw the youth in jail? Of course not. But you're happy to believe an equivalent story if the defendant is someone you don't like. 2) If the allegation is true, then we have one documented case out of 1 million wells fracked. I read about a quack doctor. Let's ban all doctors. Simplistic reasoning. Sorry, but I'm not buying into a simple minded conspiracy theory involving 14,000 oil companies and the EPA. 3) You repeatedly use the term "deflect," implying that anyone who disagrees with you, or wants to probe deeper, or challenges your simplistic beliefs, must be part of some conspiracy and must be amoral. Because there's no way you could be wrong. Even though you have no experience or technical expertise. You're a data gatherer. What colossal hubris.
Jeff Cohn January 17, 2013 at 10:39 PM
I would suggest refraining from suggesting my beliefs or my bias. You don't know me or my background. All of the published locations on the maps have a legitimate referenced sources. Non have been sourced from anonymous people as of yet. Click on the pins and you will see. Check your sources get a lesson web site navigation from a 4th grader. All the best.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Sorry Jeff. When you say things like "Chevron's donations are evidence of abuse" or " cement sealing always fail and thus why fracking contaminates water underground", you're exposed you as someone without any expertise. If I, in an auto blog, say that Studebaker is the premier car maker at present, you know immediately I know nothing about the auto industry. It's obvious that you have absolutely no technical knowledge of the topics you discuss. You're just gathering data to support pre-existing beliefs. You don't gather data, like any competent researcher would, that challenges your beliefs. You just feed your bias. Here are the contents of one blue pin (oil & gas safety issues reported): "Health or Safety Issue Description 40% of LA's drinking water comes from an underground aquifer. Do we want to risk contaminating the entire LA basin with fracking who knows what?..." Another: "Manhattan Beach 2.8 Earthquake Nov 2012 Manhattan Beach, California" A third: "...the possibility that the accident was caused by the knowing agency of Los Angeles' lesser known industry or that the official report of the experts, rather than being a serious statement of the scientific community, was a heavily edited script with a happily blameless ending, was not made known to the public, as we shall proceed to do here." A fourth highlighted the Venoco lawsuit, a case which was dismissed. A fifth: "Many kids have asthma in the area" Hardly a rigorous and focused database.
Jeff Cohn January 17, 2013 at 11:08 PM
@Richard You are a master manipulator of my statements and facts. I never said 3/4 of the things you claim above. I am done with you since you fail to describe your background and motivation for harassing me. Good day.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 11:24 PM
Jeff Cohn: "Chevron has abused its power in the South Bay by handing out money to organizations for a long time." Jeff Cohn referenced site: http://www.nobpinhb.com/2012/10/what-is-horizontal-shale-oil-drilling.html Line item 4: "4) Cement sealing always fail and thus why fracking contaminates water underground" Do you disagree with this statement? You pointed me to it. I assumed you wrote it. I think you are done with me because you're unable to competently discuss the technical issues. My motivation? I just have a thing for incompetent bloggers who accuse people they don't know, in an industry they know nothing about, of crimes, and I want to call them out. The result is always the same. You fall back on your ideology, and you're unable to make any half convincing case. You don't want the debate to be about technical issues, because you're uninformed. So you want it to be about people. One issue I have with the internet is that too many people confuse googling with knowledge, or simplistic lists of websites with experience. Instead of compiling information and trying to understand the issues, they hold some opinion that they seek to reinforce. If I posted a blog saying that all members of minority (pick one) were guilty of some imagined offenses, I'd be (rightly) condemned. Yet it's OK to accuse half a million people of being criminals without any rigorous case and without any experience.
North MB Resident January 17, 2013 at 11:52 PM
@Mssrs. Cohn and Kneff: Those who signed up to follow the news updates to this story are getting an alert every time you post. Could you move it out to the parking lot?
Joel Cooper January 18, 2013 at 01:41 AM
The gratuitous "good job Liz" alerts are far more of an annoyance than those that inform of intellectual comment. Better to read and learn,some very good points were made here. Some people bring fact,some just emote.

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