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Unplanned Chevron Flare-Up Shoots Flame Skyward

Radio transmissions indicate a fire within the plant, bringing L.A. County fire personnel to cover for El Segundo's two fire stations.

Updated 8:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.

A call to the Chevron 24-Hour Community Hotline yielded little information about the flame and smoke coming from the refinery in El Segundo Sunday around 6:30 p.m.

Lily Craig, a spokersperson for Chevron, at 7:45 p.m. told Patch the flare-up was caused by a "major process upset" and that there'd been an "emergency shutdown." She said the situation began around 5:50 p.m.

A radio transmission at 6:56 p.m. indicated that a fire within the plant had been "knocked down" and the flare subsided, but it could be "reactivated."

Rod Spackman, the plant's manager of public affairs and government, around 8 p.m. told Patch there had been no fire in the plant, however, El Segundo Fire Department Battalion Chief Breck Slover said there had been a "small ground fire" when cleaning fluid in drums was ignited.

Radio transmissions during the situation indicated a "top actually blew off" and power lines were down inside the refinery. 

Slover said one of the processors "blew the top of the tower," causing a "dislodgement" that "knocked power lines down."

Spackman told Patch the plant "lost one gasoline process making unit" which resulted in a "pretty significant" flare-up that "obviously created quite a nuisance this evening."

The "elevated safety flare" with a "significant amount of flaring" is "there to allow us to safetly depressure a plant," Spackman said.

Spackman said plant operators did not know if power lines had come down as reported on radio transmissions, but said a loss of power "may be part of why the unit came down." Plant officials expected to know if loss of power was a factor Monday morning.

According to Manhattan Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Ken Shuck, Chevron "had some kind of plant disruption" and the "product had gone to flare."

Shuck said, "The whole flare process is their [Chevron's] built-in safety."

The woman who answered the phone on the Chevron 24-Hour Community Hotline reported receiving many phone calls about the situation, saying, "I'm not sure what is going on right now." She couldn't say whether or not the situation was a threat to public safety.

Craig told Patch the situation was not a threat to public safety.

Radio transmissions indicated Los Angeles County fire trucks were being dispatched to cover the two fire stations in El Segundo, presumably while those firefighters responded to the incident at Chevron.

ESFD's Slover said that had been the case and that the Manhattan Beach Fire Department and Los Angeles County units were called in to stage near or at the plant as well.

Manhattan Beach Police Department Watch Commander Sergeant Matt Sabosky said the flare was "burn off" and the flare-up was "a very routine thing that happens over there."

A call to El Segundo Fire Station #1 went unanswered during the incident but station personnel were later reachable by phone.

Both Chevron and ESFD reported no injuries.

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Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Sorry Jeff. When you say things like "Chevron's donations are evidence of abuse" or " cement sealing always fail and thus why fracking contaminates water underground", you're exposed you as someone without any expertise. If I, in an auto blog, say that Studebaker is the premier car maker at present, you know immediately I know nothing about the auto industry. It's obvious that you have absolutely no technical knowledge of the topics you discuss. You're just gathering data to support pre-existing beliefs. You don't gather data, like any competent researcher would, that challenges your beliefs. You just feed your bias. Here are the contents of one blue pin (oil & gas safety issues reported): "Health or Safety Issue Description 40% of LA's drinking water comes from an underground aquifer. Do we want to risk contaminating the entire LA basin with fracking who knows what?..." Another: "Manhattan Beach 2.8 Earthquake Nov 2012 Manhattan Beach, California" A third: "...the possibility that the accident was caused by the knowing agency of Los Angeles' lesser known industry or that the official report of the experts, rather than being a serious statement of the scientific community, was a heavily edited script with a happily blameless ending, was not made known to the public, as we shall proceed to do here." A fourth highlighted the Venoco lawsuit, a case which was dismissed. A fifth: "Many kids have asthma in the area" Hardly a rigorous and focused database.
Jeff Cohn January 17, 2013 at 11:08 PM
@Richard You are a master manipulator of my statements and facts. I never said 3/4 of the things you claim above. I am done with you since you fail to describe your background and motivation for harassing me. Good day.
Richard Kneff January 17, 2013 at 11:24 PM
Jeff Cohn: "Chevron has abused its power in the South Bay by handing out money to organizations for a long time." Jeff Cohn referenced site: http://www.nobpinhb.com/2012/10/what-is-horizontal-shale-oil-drilling.html Line item 4: "4) Cement sealing always fail and thus why fracking contaminates water underground" Do you disagree with this statement? You pointed me to it. I assumed you wrote it. I think you are done with me because you're unable to competently discuss the technical issues. My motivation? I just have a thing for incompetent bloggers who accuse people they don't know, in an industry they know nothing about, of crimes, and I want to call them out. The result is always the same. You fall back on your ideology, and you're unable to make any half convincing case. You don't want the debate to be about technical issues, because you're uninformed. So you want it to be about people. One issue I have with the internet is that too many people confuse googling with knowledge, or simplistic lists of websites with experience. Instead of compiling information and trying to understand the issues, they hold some opinion that they seek to reinforce. If I posted a blog saying that all members of minority (pick one) were guilty of some imagined offenses, I'd be (rightly) condemned. Yet it's OK to accuse half a million people of being criminals without any rigorous case and without any experience.
North MB Resident January 17, 2013 at 11:52 PM
@Mssrs. Cohn and Kneff: Those who signed up to follow the news updates to this story are getting an alert every time you post. Could you move it out to the parking lot?
Joel Cooper January 18, 2013 at 01:41 AM
The gratuitous "good job Liz" alerts are far more of an annoyance than those that inform of intellectual comment. Better to read and learn,some very good points were made here. Some people bring fact,some just emote.

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