EMA: Chevron incident no danger to community

EMA: Chevron incident no danger to community

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Officials with the Jackson County Office of Emergency Services tell us gasoline fumes released from a storage tanker at the Chevron refinery in Pascagoula pose no threat to surrounding neighborhoods.

Deputy Director Terry Jackson said heavy rains caused the roof on a storage tanker to partially collapse, releasing gasoline fumes Sunday night.

"Excessive rain caused the roof of a storage tank to tilt and become partially submerged in the contents of the tank," said Jackson. "Refinery crews covered the exposed area of the tank with a fire retardant foam to reduce the vapor."

Chevron is monitoring the area and communicating with authorities.

Jackson said the problem surfaced Sunday night, and Chevron notified EMA there is no impact outside its fences. EMA has no reports of issues related to the fumes and no reports of odors or smells. There are no reports of any spill.

"We (emergency officials) went out to the refinery to make sure there was no impact to the citizens. That's our job, to protect the citizens," said Jackson. "Air monitor reports showed nothing above allowable limits."

Chevron reported it began emptying the tank Monday to assess the damage and make repairs. Jackson said Chevron notified EMA that, "air monitoring of the surrounding area will continue until the tank is emptied. The refinery is continuing to operate as usual."

Wednesday afternoon, Chevron released the following statement:

"The severe rain event our area experienced on Sunday impacted Chevron's Pascagoula Refinery in a number of ways, including localized flooding and temporary interruption of Chevron's rail service. 

Early Monday morning, Chevron crews discovered a storage tank's roof tilted and partially flooded.  The tilted roof allowed gasoline vapors to escape, causing an odor throughout the refinery and in nearby areas.

In response to the strong odors, Chevron safety staff implemented an internal and external air monitoring plan, which has continued since Monday morning. As wind direction has shifted, the scope of that monitoring has broadened to now extend into south Alabama. Thus far, all readings in the community have been recorded without any findings. 

No one has been injured and there is still no danger to the community. We continue to monitor the area and continue to coordinate our efforts with applicable agencies.

Since Monday, Refinery crews have kept the exposed product covered with fire retardant foam, which reduced the further release of odors.

The tank is now empty. The area around the tank remains flooded, but is contained. Depending on wind direction, nearby residents may continue to detect the odor for another day or two. Air monitoring throughout the surrounding area will continue until all recovery efforts are complete.

We recognize that the odor has been a significant nuisance in parts of our community, and we truly regret this impact to our neighbors. We continue to coordinate our response with Jackson County Office of Emergency Services, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Coast Guard, and appreciate their support."

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