In early February, a pipeline leaked at the Chevron refinery in Richmond and released anywhere in between 500 to 750 gallons of low-sulfur diesel fuel and water into the bay. Initial estimates gauged that the oil leaked at a rate of 5 gallons per minute, and although no residue was reported on Marin’s shores, the accident is worrisome.
Chevron was able to contain the spill within a couple of hours, but the fact remains that the oil can very easily damage sensitive bay habitats — particularly delicate eelgrass beds. Eelgrass provides crucial shelter species like Pacific herring, which are a major food source for thousands of birds that migrate along the Pacific Flyway from Alaska to Mexico.
An outside investigator is being brought on to do an analysis of the leak and response, but this process will likely take months. Many local groups are arguing that any amount of oil in the bay is too much and highlight the refinery’s recent flaring incidents and history of enforcement actions — 150 within the last five years — as a cause of concern.
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