HomeTop StoriesMartinez Refinery Petroleum Coke Releases Trigger for Dangerous Substances Investigation

Martinez Refinery Petroleum Coke Releases Trigger for Dangerous Substances Investigation

PIX Now – 06:00 7/11/23


MARTINEZ — Hazmat teams are investigating the release of petroleum coke that occurred Tuesday at an East Bay refinery.

At around 11 a.m., both Contra Costa Health (CCH) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District reported the release to the Martinez Refining Company (MRC) in Martinez.

The health department said on social media that the material is visible on the ground in surrounding neighborhoods and advises the public to avoid both breathing near the material and close contact with it.

Watch: Health Department Determines Risks After Petcoke Release From Martinez Refinery


CCH also said it collects samples for lab analysis.

The air district also said it is involved in the investigation. “We are responding to complaints, documenting any violations of air quality regulations and assisting first responders,” the district said on social media.

Officials are urging local residents to follow instructions from local health officials and check regularly for updates.

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According to the EPA, petroleum coke, also called petcoke, is a solid carbon material similar to coal. Petcoke is a by-product of the oil refining process.

In a social media post, MRC apologized for the release and urged community members to call the company to raise any claims or concerns.

This morning the refinery experienced a momentary release of coke dust. We have issued a Community Alert System Level 1…

Posted by Martinez Refining Company on Tuesday, July 11, 2023

MRC has been scrutinized after a chemical release that occurred last year during the Thanksgiving holiday. According to officials, the refinery released several hours of spent catalyst but did not notify authorities or the local community.

The release consisted mainly of alumina silicate, clay and other minerals extracted from the earth. It is referred to as “spent” or “used” catalyst that has been burned at high temperatures to remove impurities so that the catalyst can be reused.

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Initial tests conducted by Contra Costa Health Services determined there were “higher than normal” levels of heavy metals, including aluminum, barium, chromium, nickel, vanadium and zinc.

A report from health officials released last month determined that there was no lingering threat in post-release soil samples.

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