A power outage at Tesoro's Golden Eagle refinery in Martinez has caused excessive flaring at the refinery, prompting health officials to issue a warning for communities downwind from the plant, Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Program Director Randy Sawyer said.
The Contra Costa Hazardous Materials program received notification of the incident at 4:12 p.m., Sawyer said. There is also a shelter in place.
Because of the power outage, the refinery had to shut down its equipment and relieve excess pressure on the flares. The result was large amounts of material to its flare, which is reportedly spewing clouds of black smoke, Sawyer said.
This year is the first time the refinery has had this problem in years but they have had several similar incidents in the past few weeks.
The health services department is warning people who are chemically sensitive or who have pre-existing conditions such as asthma or emphysema to stay inside and close their windows.
The refinery is located on the outskirts of Martinez near North Concord, Sawyer said, but because of wind conditions, most of the smoke is expected to move toward Clyde and Bay Point.