A dark cloud of smoke rose from Chevron’s Richmond Refinery Thursday morning, alarming some nearby residents, but oil company officials said the smoke resulted from routine maintenance and poses no health risks to the community.
Melissa Ritchie, a Chevron spokeswoman, said the occasional flaring is a “normal and important part to keeping the refinery running safely.”
The oil company’s fenceline and community air monitors indicate that the flaring has not resulted in any health risks from air quality, Ritchie said.
But for some, the sight of the black cloud sparked memories of the August 2012 fire that sent thousands of Richmond residents to area hospitals.
Lucky Braimah, owner of Rancho Market at Fifth Street and Market Avenue in North Richmond, said people came to his store to talk about the dark plume.
“You just never know because it might be a little flame but before you know it there’s something burning,” Braimah said. “I’m glad to know it’s not something serious.”
Additional flaring may be seen from the refinery today, Ritchie said.
“….We are committed to operating safely,” she said. “Nothing is more important to us than protecting people and the environment.”