VIDEO: Source of oil sheens in San Pablo Bay, Rodeo refinery still under investigation


VALLEJO (BCN) — State, federal and county agencies are still investigating oil sheens found on San Pablo Bay and near the Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo Wednesday, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.

Officials are still investigating the source of what they called “petroleum product” sheens that were found Wednesday.

The Coast Guard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Contra Costa County’s Hazardous Materials Department and Phillips 66 established a “unified command” to respond to the sheens, coordinating jurisdictional, legal and functional responsibilities.

There was no sheen visible from the air Thursday afternoon nor has there been any oiled wildlife between the Benicia and Carquinez bridges, Amy Norris of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

“Conditions were ideal for dissipation or evaporation,” Norris said. She described the sheens as being a “petroleum product.”

“Closing the fisheries is not warranted. It’s safe to fish,” Norris said.

Phillips 66 continues to test dock pipelines and inspect the ship that was docked at the Rodeo refinery, Norris said.

Operations at Phillips 66’s refinery marine terminal in Rodeo are temporarily shut down during the investigation.

Investigators still do not know the source and volume of the material released. A temporary floating barrier has been deployed to contain the spill.

There have been no injuries associated with the release and Coast Guard officials do not anticipate a health impact on the community. No visibly oiled wildlife had been spotted as of Wednesday evening.

An odor reported widely in Vallejo starting on Tuesday night appears to have dissipated, Benicia Fire Chief Jim Lydon said.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew from Air Station San Francisco on Wednesday morning discovered a sheen just over a mile long and 40 yards wide in northern San Pablo Bay, and the Coast Guard and California Office of Spill Prevention and Response’s pollution investigators took samples while aboard a small boat to determine the source.

A second sheen was identified Wednesday afternoon during a Coast Guard flight near the marine terminal in Rodeo, according to the Coast Guard.

Several vessels and skimmers conducted containment and cleanup operations, and 1,000 feet of boom was placed in the water surrounding the refinery, Coast Guard officials said.

The Phillips 66 energy company confirmed a light oily sheen was discovered at the marine terminal in Rodeo Wednesday morning.

A tanker was berthed at the marine terminal at the time, company spokesman Dennis Nuss said.

Neither Phillips 66 officials nor the Coast Guard said the oil sheens are suspected of causing a mysterious odor that sickened many Vallejo residents Tuesday night.

Vallejo city spokeswoman Joanna Altman said the city received more than 800 calls by 10 p.m. Tuesday about the odor and residents going to a hospital.

A shelter-in-place was issued in Vallejo on Tuesday but was lifted around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. The reports of possible oil spills briefly halted ferry service between Vallejo and San Francisco.

An urgent marine information broadcast is being issued to local mariners, who are urged to call the Coast Guard San Francisco Command Center at (415) 399-7300 to report any oil sheen or other pollution.

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