California refinery Sends Flames in the Air : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

SOLANO COUNTY Compressor Shutdown Sends Flames in the Air

Friday, March 31, 2000

Benicia -- The sudden shutdown of a gas compressor at the Exxon Mobil refinery in Benicia sent excess fuel into two flare stacks that could be seen flaming for miles yesterday afternoon.

No one was injured in the 4 p.m. incident at the refinery's catalytic cracker, a unit that breaks down petroleum products into smaller components, including gasoline.

Refinery spokeswoman Paula Boas said safety systems worked as designed to route the fuel overload to the flares to be burned off. Boas said company officials had not yet figured out why the gas compressor shut down but hope to bring it back into service shortly. The catalytic cracker was placed into a ``hold mode'' while the compressor remained offline.

Mike Rees, a senior environmental health specialist for Solano County, said no hazardous materials crews were dispatched after Exxon Mobil made an initial report that the unit was under control and that no toxic compounds had been released.

-- Martin Thompson (, March 31, 2000

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