Thursday, March 07, 2019

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced today that recent flaring incidents at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond have resulted in the increased scrutiny of monitoring data as well as investigations as to the cause of the events.

Spare the Air Status

Flaring events that took place in January, February and as recent as March 6, 2019, resulted from electrical power failures during heavy rain storms. Flaring events have also occurred due to commissioning of the new hydrogen plant. Six of the eight 2018 flaring events at Chevron burned hydrogen, which burns very cleanly. Each of these flaring events are currently being investigated.

“There has been an increasing number of flaring events at the Chevron Refinery in recent weeks due to the commissioning of a new hydrogen plant at the facility in Richmond,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air District. “We are closely monitoring flaring at the refinery and investigating each event to ensure public health is protected. It’s important that the public is aware that every flaring event is closely scrutinized and investigated by the Air District.”

Flares are found at all Bay Area refineries and are important safety devices. Flares burn refinery process gasses that would otherwise be directly released to the atmosphere and are designed to protect the public, refinery workers and refinery equipment.

Air District regulations require Chevron to submit a Flare Causal Report that details the root cause of each incident and provides preventative measures that will be implemented after Air District approval to prevent recurrent flaring. Chevron has 60 days from the end of the incident month to provide reports to the Air District.

The Air District’s flare regulations are some of the first and most comprehensive flare monitoring rules in the nation. The purpose of these rules is to reduce emissions from flares at petroleum refineries by minimizing the frequency and magnitude of flaring. Since the adoption of these flare regulations, flaring events at refineries have been significantly reduced.

See charts:

Refinery Vent Gas Volume Flared:

Frequency of Flaring Events:

These rules require refineries to:

  • Monitor the volume and composition of gases burned
  • Calculate the emissions based on collected data
  • Determine the cause of the flare and prevent it from recurring
  • Submit a Root Cause Analysis to the Air District
  • Video monitor and record the flares
  • Submit data monthly to the Air District

Flare data is available on the Air District’s website at:

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is the regional agency responsible for protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area. Connect with the Air District via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

ATTACHMENT: Understanding Refinery Flares

Last Updated: 3/8/2019