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Refinery in Benicia is Among the State's Top 10 Releasers of Chemicals: EPA

The Valero refinery in Benicia is at 3400 E. 2nd St. According to the EPA, the refinery released 504,472 pounds of chemicals into the environment in 2011.

Toxic chemicals managed, treated or released into the environment from facilities operating in California increased in 2011 compared to 2010, and one of the top 10 facilities releasing chemicals that year was the Valero refinery in Benicia.

Findings for 2011 were released Wednesday Jan. 16, and they are the most current available, Michael Ardito of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a phone interview from San Francisco.

A list of the top 10 chemical releases, and a list of the top 10 facilities releasing chemicals, is part of the latest Toxics Release Inventory data published by the EPA online.

"Community Right-to-Know data helps all of us remain aware of the types and amounts of chemicals being used in our neighborhoods," Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said in a statement released Jan. 16. "It is great to see pollution prevention activities at reporting facilities, and we encourage them to reduce their chemical releases via this method."

The Valero refinery in Benicia is at 3400 E. 2nd St. According to the EPA, the refinery released 504,472 pounds of chemicals into the environment in 2011.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/region9/tri/report/11.

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Greg Bishop January 17, 2013 at 12:20 AM
No disrespect intended to Mr B, but are you kidding?? "Community Right-to-Know data helps all of us remain aware of the types and amounts of chemicals being used in our neighborhoods," ...... no, it shows the informed reader all the crap we have to breathe.... And rather than reading "It is great to see pollution prevention activities at reporting facilities, and we encourage them to reduce their chemical releases via this method." ...... encourage?? How's about "the EPA WILL do their job, making every effort to stop every chemical release in normal operations, AND aggressively work to find and correct situations that account for those releases that make headlines, and threaten the health of all living things." That's what you get paid for.
Roger Straw January 17, 2013 at 06:02 AM
So ... I'm trying to grasp the meaning of 504,472 pounds of pollutants. It doesn't really help me much to say that's 252 tons - I don't deal in tons every day. How about my car? I googled the specs on my Honda CR-V: it weighs around 3400 pounds. So last year, if I understand correctly, Valero has "managed, treated or released into the environment" toxic chemicals that weigh an equivalent of 148 of my cars. I'm not sure what percentage of those cars go up into the air, all ground up into fine little breatheable bits, and how much goes down a drain or put in barrels and buried. What goes up in the air usually moves west to east, so Valero sends that toxic stuff off to the Suisun and Grizzly Bays, Pittsburg, Antioch, Rio Vista, Cordelia, Green Valley, Fairfield, and Travis AFB. Occasionally, of course, the wind turns around and sends it back on me here in Benicia. People, wildlife ... sorry about that. All this toxicity makes for my gasoline so I can drive my CR-V - which in turn creates its own pollutant exhaust. Yipes, this is an exhausting nightmare.
Robert Livesay January 17, 2013 at 03:23 PM
I think we need to hear from Valero. They can tell us what they are doing and how they have reduced harmful releases over time. A chart for the last ten years would be very helpful. I do believe we will find out that Valero is a willing participant and is reducing harmful releases.
Marnix A. van Ammers January 17, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Didn't we have some kind of air pollution sensor either in the works or installed that could tell us at any time what pollutants are currently in the air near the refinery? It would be nice to verify chemical smells by consulting a web page. Last week I twice smelled something like solvents in the air, but I had no idea if it was just local to my immediate neighborhood, or if it was coming from the refinery. ... It would also be nice to know what if any fines were paid if/when chemicals are released.
Michelle Kye January 18, 2013 at 05:36 PM
What we need is a dedicated investigative reporter in this region who covers the local refineries. Stories like this make me long for the old days of newspaper reporting. We need a good old-fashioned beat reporter who is dedicated to advancing community knowledge with regard to the refineries, environmental laws and regulations, and who can explain in plain English what the numbers mean, what compliance or lack thereof means, and what the potential effects are to public health now and in the future. We need someone who can do this without an agenda of their own or bias. So much of Benicia's finances are dependent on the refineries, so it makes sense to have a watch dog to keep everyone honest. Understanding refineries, chemical releases, environmental laws, and associated health concerns -- and following the associated money -- is complicated stuff; we need someone who can talk to the experts and help clarify the issues for us.

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