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Officials investigating the fire at Chevron’s California oil refinery last month, have stated that those in charge of monitoring the air quality, made mistakes which led to a failure of communication with the public about potentially dangerous levels of pollution.
Although Chevron did their own air monitoring during the fire, it was up to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to determine whether or not federal and state pollution standards were exceeded, and therefore if the county officials should be told to notify the public.
At first the district said that they hadn’t seen any pollution levels exceeding state standards amongst the measurements that they took; they later then went on to rescind that statement.
The delayed warning to the public led to 15,000 people seeking medical advice due to difficulty breathing and irritated eyes.
Jack Broadbent, the district executive officer, said that clearly “the public was suffering from this event,” and that the initial air quality samples where clearly measured inaccurately.
The district is now looking at investing in new mobile air monitoring stations that can be set up quickly during an emergency, and deploying more air monitors near the refinery.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com