Air Regulators Not Equipped to Measure Particulates During Refinery Fire
The results are in for tests that measured soot levels in the air after the Chevron refinery fire. As expected, they don't show much.
That's because the closest monitor equipped to capture fine particles was two miles away, and did not turn on until several hours after the fire was extinguished.
Eric Stevenson is air sciences director for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
“We know what people were exposed to and it was particulate matter,” Stevenson said. “What we don't know for sure is what the amount of exposure was to people in different areas located throughout the Bay Area, especially closer, or where the plume was.”
Stevenson says the San Pablo particulate monitor – which takes an air sample every six days for twenty-four hours – was never designed to measure emergency incidents in real time.
He says air regulators are looking into portable equipment that can get to the site of an incident and measure particle levels as an event is occurring.
Some community groups and environmental scientists have criticized the air district for inadequate monitoring.