Chevron spill causes no wildlife damage so far; refinery trying to determine what material leaked into SF Bay

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- Chevron is now saying the material that leaked from one of its pipelines into San Francisco Bay Tuesday was some combination of water and petroleum material, perhaps gasoline or diesel fuel. However, it's awaiting lab results.

Initial estimates had the spill at about 600 gallons, but a Chevron spokesperson said that is likely to change.

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So far, according to Contra Costa County Public Health and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, there have been no reports of health or environmental impacts.

'We don't know exactly what it is yet," said Linsi Crain, Manager of Corporate Affairs for the Richmond Refinery. "That is a pipeline that takes water products like gasoline and diesel and also oil to and from ships, so we are putting that through a lab."

"It's spread out quite a bit and it's moved North," said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, describing what he saw this morning aboard a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, an unmistakable sheen in the water from the Chevron wharf in his city, all the way up to San Pablo Bay.

"They put out a lot of booms to keep it from coming ashore," said Butt. "They are bringing skimmers in today (Wednesday) to try to skim off what they can off the water. I think in the big picture it's going to be ok."

VIDEO: Chevron spill dumps oil into SF Bay
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The Chevron refinery in Richmond is investigating an oil spill Tuesday afternoon, according to city and county officials. The health department has issued a Level 2 Health Advisory.

"A preliminary investigation shows there was a 1/4 inch hole in pipeline," said Eric Laughlin with the California Department of one of the pipelines from the ships to the port, that transports oil back and forth."

VIDEO: History of Chevron refinery issues, Cosco Busan oil spill
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Contra Costa County supervisor talks about previous issues at Chevron refinery, plus a look back at the devastating Cosco Busan oil spill.

Those who live near the Richmond refinery expressed their frustration with Tuesday's spill, telling ABC7 News they expect "perfection" from their industrial next door neighbor.

"I am just horrified," said Jan Etre. "Horrified that this has happened, and happened more than once."

The explosion and fire in 2012 loom large in many memories. Locals remember the flames, the smoke, and the long towering plume stretching across Contra Costa County.

Ron Temple recalls the symptoms as he worked that night in a local emergency room.

"Shortness of breath, asthma, flare-ups."

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Chevron and other regional refineries have long been linked with regional health issues.

That is the backstory that sets the impatient and angry response to this latest spill.

"Nothing is going to make a difference until we are away from fossil fuels," said Jan Etre.

"We expect refineries in the Bay Area to have no room for error. That is a failure," said Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia.

So far, the spill has stayed well offshore, but it's a situation that will be monitored very closely.
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