Spill in Vallejo Remains a Mystery

The Phillips 66 refinery and marine terminal in Rodeo (courtesy Google Earth)

By MarEx 2016-09-22 21:21:38

U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco and local authorities are still looking for the source of two oil slicks spotted in the East Bay region on Tuesday night. 

One slick of about 40 yards wide by one mile long in northern San Pablo Bay was confirmed by Coast Guard aircraft Wednesday morning; another was spotted at the Phillips 66 Rodeo refinery on the east side of the bay shortly thereafter. 

The tanker Yamuna Spirit is docked at the refinery's pier and a 1,000 foot boom has been placed around the vessel as a precautionary measure. Phillips 66 has temporarily halted marine terminal operations while the investigation proceeds. 

The Coast Guard says that it does not yet have definitive information regarding the source of the spills. The local Mercury News reports that in addition to a dive inspection of the Yamuna Spirit’s hull, the agency is collecting fuel samples from vessels in the area. 

The Spirit came into port Monday without any problems, the San Francisco Bar Pilots told SFGate. 

Authorities are also still seeking to determine whether the spills were connected with a strong chemical odor in Vallejo on Tuesday night, which led the local fire department to issue a shelter-in-place warning and sent about 100 nearby residents to Vallejo Sutter and Kaiser Hospitals with symptoms of nausea, dizziness and headaches.

A spokesman for the Vallejo Fire Department said that odor complaints tailed off towards 0100 hours Wednesday, and a reporter with SFGate said that the odor was not noticeable later Wednesday morning.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the sheens were no longer visible, and the Coast Guard believes they have evaporated or dissipated. There have been no reports of oiled wildlife. 

All other refineries in the area have reported that they have no indication of a spill.