Phillips 66 is facing violations at its refinery in Rodeo, CA, along with the operator of an oil tanker for spilling crude oil they said caused an overpowering odor that sickened Vallejo residents last September, officials said.
The spill near the refinery’s marine terminal is to blame for fumes that prompted more than 1,400 odor complaints, said officials at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District after it concluded its investigation into the incident.
The fumes and resulting odor led Vallejo officials to impose a shelter-in-place order for the city of 120,000. Some residents sought medical attention after suffering breathing problems, and the air district said Friday the incident led to 100 hospital visits.
The Sept. 20 oil spill in San Pablo Bay led to investigations by the Coast Guard and the state’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response. The Coast Guard probe blamed Phillips 66 and the operators of the tanker, the Yamuna Spirit, for the oil spill. Both companies rejected those findings.
But until now, no investigation had definitively linked the oil spill to the fumes that wafted over Vallejo.
“The air district thoroughly investigated this incident and determined the Phillips 66 refinery and the Yamuna Spirit oil tanker operator played a role in this event and both parties will be held accountable,” said Jack Broadbent, the agency’s executive officer.
The public nuisance violations issued Friday carry monetary penalties. The fines will likely be the subject of settlement talks involving the district, the refinery and the shipping company, air regulators said.