Only on Claycord: Employees Frustrated After ‘Oil-Based’ Substance Lands on Vehicles, Businesses Near Valero Refinery

May 18, 2017 8:00 am · 12 comments

Employees who work near the Valero refinery in Benicia are trying to figure out what the ‘oil-based’ substance was that they say landed all over their vehicles on Monday morning.

One employee said the substance covered all the vehicles at his business. He said shortly after the substance landed on the vehicles, Valero handed out vouchers for car detailing to those affected.

When asked about the vouchers and what the substance was that allegedly came out of the stacks, Valero responded by saying “Valero Benicia refinery continues to work to safely restore operations as soon as possible following the May 5 power outage caused by a disruption from Pacific Gas & Electric. During this time there may be some intermittent flaring as part of the start up process.”

On May 9, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued six violations against the refinery in connection with the flaring incidents that released large plumes of smoke on May 5 and May 8.

The violations include three for excessive visible emissions and one for a public nuisance violation related to the flaring on Friday, then one more of each offense for additional flaring Monday, according to the air district.

Fines for the violations are contingent on further evaluation to determine whether maintenance was performed or if there was negligence, air district spokesman Tom Flannigan said.

A power outage around 6:45 a.m. on May 5 caused processing units to shut down and the release of process gasses to the emergency flares. There were additional emissions from the fluid coker and fluid catalytic cracking unit stacks, air district officials said in an incident report.

Electric power to the refinery was restored around 10:30 a.m. and refinery personnel started stabilizing the process units, according to the report.

Benicia police issued a shelter-in-place order for some residents and two Benicia elementary schools, and an evacuation order in an industrial park downwind and close to the refinery.


I'm just saying May 18, 2017 at 9:05 AM

Someone should have the substance tested to see if it is toxic.

Ale May 18, 2017 at 9:29 AM

Of course it’s toxic…its oil.

Doh May 18, 2017 at 9:42 AM

How about a coupon to get our lungs “detailed?”

FromClayton May 18, 2017 at 10:21 AM

When you live and work near an oil refinery, oil refinery type things are going to happen to you. Human beings have the ability to make actual decisions for themselves. I personally would never live or work next to an oil refinery. Or a public school. I hate bells and toxic sludge.

Judas May 18, 2017 at 10:58 AM

Chemtrails as in lines of coke?

Anon Awake May 18, 2017 at 11:11 AM

“…make decisions for themselves”.
Okay, don’t dare let it come to a vote….the decision would be to move the refineries.
Reminds me of how that they built homes overlooking an automobile wrecking yard. The yuppies didn’t want their yuppy friends coming over and seeing a junkyard.
The city harassed and pressured the wrecking yard owner out of business.
As for the refinery – the stuff they are ALWAYS spewing in the air affects the whole bay area.

WC resident May 18, 2017 at 11:15 AM

Older model cars such as the ones in the photos look better with a patina coating of misted on oil.

WhoDat? May 18, 2017 at 11:25 AM

Have the substances checked by a certified testing lab. If you’ve been exposed to carcinogens, you should sue the pants off the refinery for future medical tests, care, and possible funeral expenses. Oh, and damages for pain and suffering!

GregTheElder May 18, 2017 at 3:08 PM

This is exactly how zombie movies start.

Worker May 18, 2017 at 4:28 PM

Anon Awake- ALWAYS? So you are there testing every hour of every day? When do you sleep?

Even if you could secede in getting rid of the refineries, you would lose in the long run. There are 5 in this area that all contribute millions of dollars back into the communities. Through volunteer and donations. Not to mention the tens of millions ( per refinery ) in taxes that would be gone.

You want cheaper gas? Forget it. It would all have to be transported in. Adds to costs. And since the refineries have been here before regulations and knowledge of what crude does, the land could never be built on.

Cautiously Informed May 18, 2017 at 8:22 PM

The BAAQMD is a typical government agency joke. All they do and can do is issue citations. They have no control over anything except to collect money. The refineries do whatever they want. The citations are a (minimal) cost of doing business.

Mike May 19, 2017 at 9:44 AM


The Valero Refinery undergoes a Major Shut Down once every 5 – 7 years. The refinery was shut down for all of February. So they had to undergo a cold start process, that inherently requires some troubleshooting issues such as leaks, etc.

And yes, the BAAQME is virtually powerless over the Refineries. The Refineries obviously do not wish any down-time as that cuts into profitability. But when push comes to shove, FLARING is the immediate solution to their operating problems.

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