Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chevron's California refinery fire contained, not out yet

(Reuters) - A massive fire struck at the core of Chevron Corp's large Richmond, California, refinery on Monday, spewing flames and a column of smoke into the air, threatening a prolonged outage that may increase prices of the costliest U.S. gasoline.

The fire was contained, but not extinguished, according to the company. The fire has blazed for hours after it erupted at the refinery in a densely populated industrial suburb of San Francisco. Smoke could be seen billowing over the Bay Area and four train stations were shut.

Nearby residents were ordered indoors after the fire hit the sole crude unit at the 245,000 barrel per day (bpd) plant, which accounts for one-eighth of California state's refining capacity. About 200 people have sought medical help, complaining of respiratory problems, the San Pablo, California-based Doctors Medical Center said in a statement.

The fire had started in the No. 4 crude unit, the only one at the plant, at 6:15 p.m. shortly after a leak was discovered, Chevron said. As the leak grew, workers were evacuated, plant manager Nigel Hearn told journalists at the site. He said some units were still operating, but gave no details.

It was not immediately clear when the fire would be put out and the extent of damage to the plant was not known. Read More