Explosion at California fuel depot


An explosion at a fuel storage facility in the town of Crockett in the San Francisco Bay Area on 15 October involved around 200 firefighters in a seven-hour struggle to control the blaze.

Occuring on the premises of petrochemicals firm NuStar, it caused the closure of a nearby freeway and sent a large plume of dark smoke into the air. The firm said two tanks had been involved, containing around 250k litres of ethanol. In late October investigators had still to issue a verdict on the cause of the incident. One problem seems to have been a noticeable delay before the activation of fire suppression equipment, for reasons not yet determined. NuStar said that “given the speed, intensity and particular location of this combustion, the suppression equipment for that part of the facility was inaccessible until first responders arrived to cool the area down with water.”

Search warrants issed on computer servers were expected to turn up video and other relevant data. NuStar said its own air monitoring during the incident had found no traces of contaminants in the air. The NuStar subsidiary that had been operating the tank farm had been subject to federal proceedings in 2009 having emitted large amounts of volatile compounds into the air without a vapour recovery unit for at least a year.