Flares of Flame and Smoke Not Hazardous, Chevron Says

The flare is a safety device used to release pressure, according to Chevron Fire Battalion Chief Tim Brown. AQMD was on site to monitor the air quality.

Ongoing flares of fire that produced dark smoke and noise followed by releases of white smoke just north of Manhattan Beach today came from work at the Chevron El Segundo Refinery, Manhattan Beach Fire Department Captain Jim Muth told Manhattan Beach Patch late this afternoon.

Jhenell  Maxey, who answered Chevron's 24-hour community hotline when MB Patch called, said that the release was "not hazardous."

She and Chevron Fire Battalion Chief Tim Brown said that the South Coast Air Quality Management District was at Chevron monitoring the air quality.

The visible flare of fire and plumes of smoke were the result of a safety maneuever "to balance out pressure," Brown told MB Patch. The "flare is a safety device," he said. In this case, the refinery was starting a plant back up after it had been down for maintenance for three weeks, he told MB Patch. 

He told MB Patch that the refinery has "to self report the flare incident" to AQMD.

Muth, a 15-year MB fireman, said, ""I have never been there [the Chevron El Segundo Refinery] on a bad incident."

He said that when a "concerned resident" called today to report a large column of smoke they could see north of their house, MB fire personnel checked the area the caller had named and since they could see a flare at Chevron, called the refinery to find out if the facility had a "release right now," a procedure routinely followed when the fire department becomes aware of a flare at Chevron.

After being told that Chevron had no release at the time, the fire department received a call from Chevron within ten seconds of the first call, said Muth. Chevron stated that they had had a release and that it was controlled and contained and that "everything is OK," said Muth.

Curious drivers and passengers could be seen pulling over on Pacific Avenue one block south of Rosecrans Avenue to take photos of the flares of fire and smoke.

Others on the street appeared unconcerned.

"Over the years, we've seen it [flares of fire and smoke] many times," said Muth. He  said that his department trains with the on-site Chevron Fire department periodically.

Sunny Dallafior April 24, 2011 at 07:01 AM
I don't buy it! How can thick black smoke spewing into the air be safe? Not to mention the sound has just woken me up! I just read an article on bloomberg about communities that sued Chevron among others for toxic flareups. Something does not feel or look right about this. It has been burning BIG off and on all day today (it is now midnight.)
Sunny Dallafior April 24, 2011 at 07:03 AM
I don't buy it! How can thick black smoke spewing into the air be safe? Not to mention the sound has just woken me up! I just read an article on bloomberg about communities in Nigeria that sued Chevron among others for toxic flareups. Something does not feel or look right about this. It looks like the end of the world outside. It has been burning BIG off and on all day today (it is now midnight.)
Stanley Katz April 24, 2011 at 03:29 PM
How long have you lived here, Sunny? This has been a routine operation at Chevron ever since I can remember. They were here before we were. The burn off is something they must do for safety reasons. Their safety record is impeccable. We, as a society, are dependent on gas and oil. Why do you suppose all those huge ships are always anchored out in the ocean? You live very close to an oil refinery. If you lived in "The Village" you would be living on top of an old tank farm.
Mike April 25, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Gas flaring is not at all safe or healthy. You're being poisoned, Stanley. See here about the effects of gas flaring in Nigeria: http://www.foe.org/gas-flaring-nigeria And Chevron by no means has an "impeccable" safety record. Their PR machine may have convinced you otherwise, but I assure you that's not the case. See here: http://www.changechevron.org/the-problem
cathy April 25, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Whether Chevron was here first is not my issue or concern. I have lived within the first block of Pacific Ave for over 15 years and never assume that all is well. I do not believe that we should become complacent or be afraid to let Chevron know of our concerns. Holding them accountable and having an ongoing open line of communication serves all of us well.
Kathy Sena April 25, 2011 at 08:32 PM
I'm curious why they seem to often do this on holiday weekends. We have lived on Pacific Avenue for more than 15 years and we have wondered about that. Is it because they think people are gone or are otherwise occupied and won't notice? It's hard not to notice this!
Linda Ilog April 29, 2011 at 02:39 PM
I think everyone in the area should do a cancer patient research of the area, How many have cancern especially the little children in the area and call a lawyer.....It is causing long time sickness that will lead to death period.
Frydoun January 06, 2012 at 06:39 AM
Do you know, the most flare air toxicity is generated for first fwe hours of flare start-up becuase flare combustion is incomplete, that is the reason black smoke appears in air, these black smokes are due partial combustion of volatile organic, the most cancer causing hazardous waste, but if you ask Chevron about these black smokes, Chevron will claim these toxic black smokes are good for human health. Chevron's criminal action is against all environmental law, but unforetunately Chevron has enough political power in Washington to ignore all environmental laws designed to protect human health, Chevron's management doesn't care about human health, Chevron doesn't care if little kids or senior have been impacted by these cancer causing toxic gases the number one cause of ASMA in young kids, and seniors, belive it or not Chevron will charge people with asma if there was no environmental groups fighting for our air quality.
Frydoun January 06, 2012 at 06:41 AM
What you expect from criminal, for me there is no difference between Chevron and mexican drug lords
Frydoun January 06, 2012 at 06:45 AM
Because there is no agency's inspector in week end, like China, usually all polluters start flares at 5.01 PM when all agenies close their telephone lines, and doors by design
Frydoun January 06, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Just check it with local DTSC office.
Frydoun January 06, 2012 at 06:49 AM
Chevron was not here first, people came first, but any way, but even if Chevron came first, doesn't means Chevron is above law when producing cancer causing toxin and shortening people lives.
tvac August 25, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Frydoun: I suppose you don't use gasoline or ANY petroleum products for that matter...such a hypocrite!
Martha January 09, 2013 at 01:08 AM
I work east of the refinery and we had terrible fumes inside the building and had to vacate it. Several people had problems with headaches and breathing, especially those with asthma. What an insult to hear then say that there was no harm in this.
Janna Day March 26, 2013 at 09:05 PM
I live in Malibu and the fumes from that plant and the other one blow over here! We get headaches and burning eyes. I do believe there is benzene (just for starters) in that smoke. I have just finished one project and am interested in getting places like this to filter that stuff out. In the old days in Malibu we never had this problem. Am interested in contacting people who live near there. The AQMD told me exactly what I need to do. Hope to her from some people.


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