Coast Guard Solves Mystery of the Vallejo Spill

The Phillips 66 Rodeo refinery

By MarEx 2016-10-21 21:48:49

U.S. Coast Guard investigators in San Francisco announced Thursday that they had partially solved the mystery of the oily sheen on San Pablo Bay, which appeared the evening of September 20 and quickly dissipated. 

The Coast Guard said that an oil sample taken from the surface of the water matched the oil cargo that was being transferred from the crude tanker Yamuna Spirit to the Phillips 66 Rodeo refinery at the time of the incdent. 

An oily sheen had been spotted in the immediate vicinity of the refinery terminal, but until now the Coast Guard has been careful not to make any public statements connecting the spill to either the vessel or the facility.

Despite a thorough search of the Spirit and of the transfer system at the dock, the USCG said that it could not determine the exact point at which the spill originated, and therefore the financial responsibility for the cleanup costs will be divided between the refinery and the vessel.  

The Coast Guard has already allowed the Yamuna Spirit to finish discharging her cargo and to depart. 

Separately, the Coast Guard said that it found "no conclusive determination" for the source of a foul, chemical odor that forced the local fire department to issue a shelter-in-place order.

The oily sheen was spotted the night of September 20. A spokesman for the Vallejo Fire Department said that odor complaints peaked that night and tailed off towards 0100 hours the morning of September 21; a reporter with SFGate said that the odor was not noticeable later that morning.

As of the afternoon of September 21, the sheen was no longer visible, and the Coast Guard believes the oil evaporated or dissipated. There were no reports of oiled wildlife.