'Unacceptable': Chevron Oil Spill Leaks 600 Gallons of Petroleum Into San Francisco Bay

An oil spill close to Chevron's Richmond refinery has leaked approximately 600 gallons of a petroleum and water mixture into San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay.

The pollutant was pouring into the estuary at a rate of five gallons per minute, according to Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, who described the incident as "unacceptable," and said that it "will harm wildlife and marine life."

The source of the leak is believed to be a pipeline on Chevron's "long wharf" tanker terminal.

Local beaches were closed, members of the public were advised to steer clear of the area, and a health advisory was issued for people with respiratory conditions in Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo, who may have experienced eye, skin, nose or throat irritation as a result of the incident.

Strong odors were also reported locally, and Miller/Knox Park has been temporarily closed.

Air District Inspectors on scene at Long Wharf near #Chevron where roughly 600 gallons of a petroleum and water mixture have leaked. There is a multi-agency response and the leak is now contained. This is an ongoing investigation. Follow instructions from local authorities.

— Bay Area Air Quality (@AirDistrict) February 10, 2021

Miller/Knox Closed Due to Oil Spill - The Park District has been advised of an oil spill coming from Chevron Refinery Long Wharf in Richmond. For the public’s safety, all access to Miller/Knox will remain closed through at least noon, Wed. Feb. 10.

— East Bay Regional Parks (@EBRPD) February 10, 2021

The spill was first noticed at around 3 p.m. PT on the afternoon of Tuesday, February 9.

Gioia said that the leak was stopped at approximately 4.30 p.m., and a boom was subsequently placed around the petroleum to limit its spread. The health advisory was lifted at 9 p.m., and a cleanup is underway.

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network has been notified of the incident, but at the time of publication there have been no reports of at-risk animals.

The waters of San Francisco Bay are home to more than 500 species of wildlife, according to the Marine Global Earth Observatory, including whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, salmon and migratory birds.

The OWCN had been put on stand-by for a release in the Richmond area. Teams of trained bird- and marine mammal professionals are ready to mobilize immediately should animals be deemed at risk. Please call (877) UCD-OWCN should you see any animals in crisis. https://t.co/KrPlyMAGrt

— OWCN (@oiledwildlife) February 10, 2021

"A sheen has been observed in San Pablo Bay and there are unconfirmed reports of petroleum on the shoreline," the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) team said.

It added: "OSPR's Field Response Team has mobilized to the scene to manage the incident in coordination with other responding agencies.

"An initial incident command post has been established and a full assessment of environmental impacts will be conducted."

Gioia confirmed that an investigation will be taking place.

"I spoke to [California State Assembly member] Buffy Wicks tonight and she plans to introduce a bill to increase fines and penalties in order to provide more effective deterrence," he wrote in a post on Facebook.

1: UPDATE on oil spill at Richmond Chevron Long Wharf (photo below of oil sheen courtesy of Denis Perez Bravo of @richmondpulse ).

Petroleum product leaked from a pipeline on the long wharf starting around 2:40pm continuing to about 4:30 pm at rate of 5 gallons per min .. pic.twitter.com/L69Pr5MEyV

— John Gioia (@supejohngioia) February 10, 2021

Chevron Richmond, which is attracting heavy criticism online, issued the following statement: "At approximately 3 p.m. today, the Richmond Refinery observed a sheen on the water near the Richmond Refinery wharf.

"Chevron immediately initiated its response protocol, began working to isolate and contain the release, and notified all applicable agencies. The hydrocarbon release has been stopped at this time and clean-up is ongoing. Chevron is fully cooperating with authorities, including the U.S. Coast Guard and OSPR.

"We have issued a community notice and ask the public to remain clear of the area so crews can quickly contain and clean up the released volumes."

Golden Gate Bridge at San Francisco Bay
The Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay are seen from above in San Francisco, California on October 9, 2015. Hundreds of gallons of petroleum have been leaked into the waters of San Francisco Bay after an incident near Chevron's Richmond refinery. Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images