HI: Chevron refinery leaks sulfur gases

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Posted on: Wednesday, May 24, 2000

HI: Chevron refinery leaks sulfur gases

By Scott Ishikawa Advertiser Staff Writer

CAMPBELL INDUSTRIAL PARK  The Chevron refinery plant released sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide gases into the air yesterday, but the release did not harm any of the surrounding residential and commercial areas, officials said.

Chevron officials said a pump failure at the plant may have released the potentially toxic gases into the air at about 2:50 p.m. Company officials notified the Honolulu Fire Department at 3:15 p.m., and fire crews were sent out to Honokai Hale, Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park and Ko Olina Resort to sample for air quality. No traces of either chemical were detected and fire crews were called off the scene at 4:32 p.m.

A state health official at the fence line of the refinery plant also did not detect traces of the chemicals in the air.

Chevron official Tom Simons said the plant was shut down within five minutes of detecting the faulty pump.

"Because the pump shut down, the plant lost circulation, which may have triggered the release," Simons said. "We called fire officials as a precaution. Because of the light wind conditions, fire officials felt those surrounding areas were the places to check for air quality."

Simons guessed the plant would remain closed until the pump was fixed sometime last night or this morning.

Gary Gill, state health director for environmental health, said approximately 17 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 462 pounds of sulfur trioxide were released into the air yesterday. While the release of sulfur dioxide was considered "minor," Gill said the release of sulfur trioxide was above the reportable level of 150 pounds.

State health officials will further investigate the matter.

Both chemicals, which give off a rotten egg smell, are produced during the petroleum refining process. High concentrations can cause illness if inhaled or touched.

Other recent incidents at Campbell Industrial Park included: Two fires in January at the Hawaii Metal Recycling Co. The leak of 35 tons of sulfuric acid from a storage tank at Brewer Environmental Industries on Thanksgiving Day 1999. An equipment breakdown at an oil refinery in November 1995 resulted in the release of nearly five tons of sulfur dioxide into the air, sending nearly 30 people to the hospital. The state Department of Health blamed the Chevron refinery.


-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), May 24, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ