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newsrel -- State and local district air quality officials to define best practices for enhanced monitoring of refinery accidents

Posted: 26 Apr 2013 12:42:49
Please consider the following news release from the California
Air Resources Board:

APRIL 26TH, 2013


Stanley Young
(916) 322-2990
(916) 956-9409 cell

State and local district air quality officials to define best
practices for enhanced monitoring of refinery accidents

SACRAMENTO – Executives of the state’s major local air districts
where refineries are located are working with the California Air
Resources Board on a collaborative approach to assess the status
of air pollution monitoring around California’s major oil

The first step in the evaluation is to assess the best practices
and procedures used by local air districts and emergency response
officials throughout the State. The next step will be developing
joint recommendations and guidance for key areas such as air
monitoring instrumentation, modeling of air releases and related
air quality forecasting, emergency response communications, and

“Most of California’s major oil refineries are adjacent to
densely populated urban areas,” said ARB Chairman Mary D.
Nichols. “Bringing together agencies that can help gather,
interpret and communicate air quality information during a
catastrophic event is essential to improving our ability to

The ongoing collaborative effort among South Coast, Bay Area, San
Joaquin Valley and San Luis Obispo air districts, and the ARB,
could include future enhanced public access to related air
quality and emissions data throughout the state. 

The overall effort is being coordinated by the Governor’s Office
and an interagency task force to improve safety at California’s
refineries. Members of the task force are also coordinating their
efforts with city and country offices as well as representatives
of the refineries as part of the evaluation process.

The effort was prompted by the fire at the Chevron USA refinery
in Richmond last August. During such fires, shelter-in-place
decisions are designed to be health-protective when air quality
data cannot be obtained. Officials hope to identify methods to
provide better air quality information to County Public Health
Directors whose offices are responsible for issuing
shelter-in-place orders.  

Executives from the South Coast, Bay Area and San Joaquin Valley
air districts, along with ARB’s Office of Emergency Response,
presented an update on responding to refinery incidents and the
development of a state framework for refinery monitoring at the
April 25, 2013 Board meeting. The related presentations are
available at:

“The Bay Area Air district is working with other air districts
throughout the state sharing our lessons learned and
recommendations developed as part of our after-action report,”
said Jack Broadbent, Executive Officer of the Bay Area Air
District. “We are confident that working with other agencies we
will be able to develop improved methods for sharing real-time
information with first responders and the public.”

A document describing the assessment and key recommendations —
essentially the roadmap for developing the improved approach to
air quality monitoring at refineries — is currently in the final
stages of completion. It is being jointly prepared by ARB in
collaboration with the local air districts and is expected to be
made available to the public in the next month. 

“The South Coast Air Quality Management District imposes strict
rules and permitting requirements on the eight refineries in our
region,” said Barry Wallerstein, SCAQMD’s executive officer.
“We’re pleased to contribute our expertise in collaboration with
the State and other local districts to define best practices
during refinery fires and accidents.”

“San Joaquin Valley refineries are very small and located in less
densely populated areas. However, through this process we want to
examine the adequacy of our existing measures that are extensive
and look for opportunities to enhance our resources to better
monitor emissions and notify the public,” said Seyed Sadredin,
the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s Executive
Director and Air Pollution Control Officer.

“We are pleased to work collaboratively with the Governor’s
Office, the Air Resources Board and other emergency response
agencies to enhance our capabilities to respond effectively and
keep the public accurately informed in the event of an air
quality emergency,” said Larry Allen, Executive Director with the
San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District. “While SLO
County is rural in nature, and less populated than the
metropolitan regions of the state, emergency preparedness and
public access to information are top priorities for our local

ARB also announced creation of a new publicly accessible website
for refinery air monitoring information. The new website will
provide in one location information on air emissions and air
quality from the local air district’s current monitoring network
for all the state’s major refineries, including 24/7 air quality
data from a number of newly established air monitors in the
vicinity of the Richmond refinery. 

Periodic updates on the statewide emergency air monitoring
capabilities assessment will be posted on the new webpage at:

ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare,
and ecological resources through effective reduction of air
pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the
economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in
California to attain and maintain health based air quality

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