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Wed Sep 5, 2012, 11:57 PM

Pre-fire cloud mostly steam, Chevron says

Source: SF Chronicle

Chevron officials cast doubt Wednesday on whether a giant white plume that rose over the company's Richmond refinery just before a fire broke out Aug. 6 consisted of flammable hydrocarbon vapor, suggesting it was mostly steam.

In a report on the fire that it filed with Contra Costa County's hazardous materials unit, Chevron said the cloud - which towered about 1,000 feet in the air and appears clearly in photographs taken from across the bay - was created when company firefighters poured water on the spot where a "small flash fire" had ignited and been extinguished moments earlier.

As the white cloud continued to tower into the sky, photographs show, black smoke erupted from the refinery. Soon that cloud also extended hundreds of feet into the air, as a fire roared through the refinery's crude-oil processing unit.

The composition of the white vapor cloud has ramifications for the investigation into the fire, as the greater the size, the greater the potential for catastrophic damage. Hydrocarbon vapor also contains chemicals that could cause breathing problems or other ill effects. Steam is harmless.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Pre-fire-cloud-mostly-steam-Chevron-says-3843008.php

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Reply Pre-fire cloud mostly steam, Chevron says (Original post)
alp227 Sep 2012 OP
CountAllVotes Sep 2012 #1
canuckledragger Sep 2012 #2
dipsydoodle Sep 2012 #3

Response to alp227 (Original post)

Thu Sep 6, 2012, 12:03 AM

1. 50 year old geezer refinery

Sucker needs to be shut down.

I used to live near this toxic pile of garbage and it was indeed a bit difficult to breath. They had no regulations at the time so the door and windows of the house were shut when this happened which was quite often.

Today, just two of us are left, the others all dead, 2 of cancer.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Thu Sep 6, 2012, 12:04 AM

2. Bullshit.

One of the oil companies with one of the worst track records for spills & the like..

& we're supposed to take their word that it was just 'steam'?

Covering their ass from liability I'd assume.

I want to see them & BP & the rest of their ilk nailed to the wall for their abuses.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Thu Sep 6, 2012, 04:28 AM

3. Similiar incident near where I live measured 2.4 on the Richter scale.

Buncefield fire.

The first and largest explosion occurred at 06:01 UTC on Sunday, 11 December 2005 near container 912.[6][9] Further explosions followed which eventually overwhelmed 20 large storage tanks.[10] From all accounts, it seems to have been an unconfined vapour cloud explosion of unusually high strength—also known as a fuel-air explosion.[11] Because of an inversion layer, the explosions were heard up to 125 miles (200 km) away; there were reports that they were audible in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.[2][6][12]

The British Geological Survey monitored the event, which measured 2.4 on the Richter scale.[4][9][12] It was reported that people were woken in south London, and as far west as Wokingham (about 28 miles (45 km)), where in its southern suburb, Finchampstead, numerous people felt the shockwave after the initial explosion. Subsequent explosions occurred at 06:27 and 06:28.[5][6]

Witnesses many miles from the terminal observed flames hundreds of feet high; the smoke cloud was visible from space, and from as far north as Lincolnshire (about 70 miles (110 km)) away.[5] Damage from the blasts included broken windows at various buildings including the Holy Trinity church and Leverstock Green School, blown-in or warped front doors, and an entire wall being removed from a warehouse more than half a mile (800 m) from the site.[16] Buildings in neighbouring St Albans also suffered; Townsend School had serious blast damage, and a window was blown out of St Albans Abbey (about 5 miles (8 km)).[9]

Several nearby office blocks were hit so badly that almost every window, front and back, was blown in as the explosion ripped through them.[17] During the working day, these offices would have been full of people, and many deaths may have resulted. Reports also indicated that cars in nearby streets caught fire. The roof of at least one house was blown off.[16] Buildings in the vicinity were evacuated by police, not only because of the smoke and possibility of more explosions, but because of the danger of structural damage making the buildings unstable.[9]


When the fuel air explosion occurred it created a vacuum for miles around maybe only for seconds. The bang woke me when the main first explosion occurred. I thought at first the that 40 or so banjo and guitars which litter my walls hung from picture rails had all hit the deck at the same time. I could see my four cats were freaked, saw no damage, couldn't figure what had caused the sound and went back to sleep. I later figured that what woke me was the trapdoor to the roof levitating and slamming shut loudly.There was freezing fog that morning and the smoke cloud which I saw soon as I left my house a few hours later soon with that. The huge cloud , miles wide, drifted across southern England for about a week before it dissipated completely.

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