(EnviroNews Utah via Community Watch Blog) – North Salt Lake City – Yesterday, at around 7:50 a.m., a concerned citizen pulled out a camera and snapped photos of fire atop the Chevron smokestack coupled with a massive belch of black smoke from the old refinery in North Salt Lake City, Utah. They also sent those pictures to us via the EnviroNews Community Watch.
This certainly isn’t the first time Chevron has been witnessed blasting huge flame towers and billowing toxic smoke clouds into the airshed.
What is amazing is that oftentimes a bypass event like this doesn’t even constitute a Notice of Violation (NOV) as according to current policy; companies are usually only cited when the event is due to negligence or blatant human error.
If the bypass occurs due to failures or what they refer to as “an act of God,” no violations are usually written no matter how much horrendous raw poison the company may have dumped into the open environment — unfiltered or unscrubbed.
EnviroNews Utah spoke with compliance specialist Harold Burge of the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ), who informed us that Chevron had called in the event to the DAQ, which they blamed on a power outage. Fortunately for Chevron, and unfortunately for the angry citizens who again had to breathe the fumes, power outages usually fall into the “act of God” category.
We, along with the DAQ and others, are waiting on Chevron’s full and detailed report of the event. Yesterday’s nasty smoke cloud has prompted us to start exploring further to determine if there are better safety systems that can be implemented to help prevent electrical outages at oil refineries, since some of the worst bypass episodes we have witnessed to date have occurred from what were often written off scot-free as “act of God” power outages.