- Chevron response to fire threat probed (SF Chronicle)
Investigators looking into the fire at the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond suspect that heat insulation around a leaking pipe contributed to the disaster by masking the extent of the danger until it was too late, The Chronicle has learned. By underestimating the size of the leak, initially believed to be about 20 drips per minute, officials kept operating the refinery's large crude unit, where crude oil is separated under heat reaching 1,100 degrees.
- San Francisco 49ers, South Bay schools settle $30 million tax dispute (SJ Mercury News)
Settling a dispute over precious tax funds that pitted pro football against schools, the San Francisco 49ers and local education leaders on Thursday agreed to share millions of dollars dedicated for the team's new stadium to stave off classroom cuts. The deal will settle a lawsuit that the 49ers filed against a Santa Clara County oversight board that shell-shocked Silicon Valley in June by seizing redevelopment money voters earmarked for the $1.2 billion stadium and giving it to schools. Now, stadium construction can continue at full speed, though the 49ers will have to wait longer to get their money, while local schools and other agencies will get to tap into the disputed funding source but get about half of what they wanted.
- You thought Monday's Chevron fire was bad, look back to the '90s (Contra Costa Times)
While Monday's massive fire at Chevron's Richmond refinery blackened skies, scared residents and renewed calls for stricter regulation and oversight, the frequency and severity of such accidents at Contra Costa County's four oil refineries has declined significantly since beefed-up industrial safety regulations were put in place 13 years ago. In fact, Monday's blaze is the first refinery accident to receive the county's most severe designation -- Level 3 -- since a similar fire struck the same facility in 1999.
- Newark-based Envia, backed by GM, may have electric car breakthrough (Oakland Tribune)
A small battery company backed by General Motors is working on breakthrough technology that could power an electric car 100 or even 200 miles on a single charge in the next two-to-four years, GM's CEO said Thursday. Speaking at an employee meeting, CEO Dan Akerson said the company, Newark, Calif.-based Envia Systems, has made a huge breakthrough in the amount of energy a lithium-ion battery can hold. GM is sure that the battery will be able to take a car 100 miles within a couple of years, he said. It could be double that with some luck, he said.
Whoever said turtles are slow has obviously never been to the Oakland Zoo. The zoo's 44 western pond turtles were scampering across their enclosure Thursday, clambering over each other like puppies and attempting to scale over the side to freedom. And freedom is just a week away: Almost a year after they hatched, the rambunctious reptiles will be released next week in a remote Lake County bog as part of an ambitious project to study and save the steeply declining California native.
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories graduate student Paul Clerkin recently returned from a two-month research cruise in the southern Indian Ocean, and he brought with him exciting discoveries. In Clerkin's cargo were eight newly discovered deep-sea shark species, caught by fishermen trawling seamounts along the Melville Ridge.
High temperatures predicted for the rest of the week prompted another Spare the Air alert for the Bay Area on Friday, as well as the summer's first Flex Alert, which asks Californians to conserve electricity... Temperatures are expected to reach the high 90s and low 100s in the North Bay and South Bay, as well as in areas further inland such as Livermore and Concord, said Austin Cross, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Temperatures should stay in the lower 70s in San Francisco and the upper 70s in Oakland for the rest of the week, Cross said.
A San Francisco Superior Court judge on Thursday denied a request for a pre-emptive halt to Central Subway-related construction work in North Beach that is scheduled to start Tuesday. Marc Bruno, a North Beach resident, had sought a temporary restraining order mandating a 12-day delay, saying dust, noise and inconvenience from at least three months of work relocating utilities around the intersection of Union Street and Columbus Avenue would drive away customers and irreparably harm Washington Square businesses.
The Petaluma National Little League all-stars don't want to get ahead of themselves. But it's hard not to. The team is just two wins away from going to the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania, the once-in-a-lifetime experience youth baseball players fantasize about.
Muni shows "a callous disregard" for its riders when it uses switchbacks, the transit-industry practice of unloading passengers and turning around trains and buses unexpectedly before they reach their final scheduled destination. That was the opinion of a new report released Thursday by the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury, accompanied by a press release with the title, "DUMPED IN THE RAIN AFTER DARK."
Not going to Outside Lands this weekend? Here's a different way to get your fix of stars and bright lights. The Perseid meteor shower is coming this weekend, and the phenomenon will peak with a spectacular show on Saturday night.