California County Conducts Unannounced Inspection at PBF's Martinez Refinery

Reuters, December 27, 2023

Health authorities in California's Contra Costa County said on Tuesday they had launched an unannounced inspection at PBF Energy's (PBF.N) 156,400 barrel per day refinery in Martinez.

The inspection was aimed at requesting records and observing its operation with a focus on safety programs, reliability of equipment, and to follow up regarding several recent accidents, Contra Costa Health said.

The refinery had released petroleum coke dust in October, after a similar incident in July. The Department of Justice is also investigating the refinery over a November 2022 release of a powdery substance later determined to be spent catalysts.

Due to the facility's history of chemical spills and other mishaps, PBF is required by the county's industrial safety ordinance to allow inspectors on site and grant them complete access to the site and all corporate records, it said.

"So far in 2023, there have been 21 documented releases or spills of hazardous materials at PBF," the Contra Costa release said, adding that PBF also reported flaring at a rate of nearly one per week throughout the year.

This regulatory inspection will include staff from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, according to the release.

CCH staff will review records pertaining to deferred maintenance of equipment, programs and training relating to workplace safety, and policies and procedures related to emergency response and community notification.

The release also stated that the inspection will conduct a variety of field verification activities.

Contra Costa Health had issued an advisory earlier this month after a strong odor from the refinery, asking people with respiratory sensitivities to stay indoors with doors and windows closed if there is an odor in their area.

(Reporting by Anjana Anil and Deep Vakil; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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