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Bay Area Air Quality Management District Investigating Source of Foul, Gas-Like Odors in Alameda

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has opened an investigation into activities at Alameda’s Starlight Marine facility, which evidently have been the source of a foul, gas-like odor in Alameda over the past week.

The odor, which was intense last Thursday afternoon in the vicinity of Mariner Square, prompted Alameda residents to suspect a natural gas leak and call 9-1-1. The Alameda Fire Department and PG&E crews responded, but the source turned out to be a barge-to-barge transfer of oil at Starlight Marine Services off Main Street, east of Rosenblum Cellars. One resident reported to Action Alameda News that they detected the odor again on Sunday evening at their west-end Alameda home.

Ralph Borrmann of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District told Action Alameda News, “The air district is working closely with the Coast Guard and the Alameda Fire Department to bring this to a resolution and protect public health and safety. We observed what we believe are multiple violations of air district rules, but it’s still under investigation.”

Last Thursday evening, Alameda Fire Department Captain Rick Zombeck told Action Alameda News that they had identified the fuel transfer as the source of the odor and reported it to the Air Quality Management District and that it was up to the District to determine whether proper procedures and equipment were used to effect the transfer.

Denise Lai, an Alameda resident that called the fire department on Thursday night, said, “It’s just like before, 18 months ago when we were blanketed with asbestos from the FISC fire. The stink on Thursday night was of such a magnitude, going from the West End all the way to Bay Farm, and so strong smelling, that my eyes and lungs were irritated. We all were left to wonder what the heck the smell was and whether or not it was bad for our health. As usual, days later, we discover that it was in fact bad for our health. It was the smell of crude oil which not only is a regulated substance, it is never meant to be smelled: there are methods and controls to insure any transfer of crude oil is done in a closed system to protect anyone from the inhalation of the toxic ‘aromatic compounds.’ Whatever AFD reported to BAAQMD, it was not characterized as serious. BAAQMD waited until Friday to investigate; at that time, the barges were done with their unauthorized crude oil transfer; and it’s far more difficult for BAAQMD to catch the offenders in the act.”

Action Alameda News requested by e-mail today a statement from Acting Fire Chief Michael Fisher, who had not responded by press time.

4 comments to Bay Area Air Quality Management District Investigating Source of Foul, Gas-Like Odors in Alameda

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ActionAlameda and ESIP Air Quality WG, Alameda Buzz. Alameda Buzz said: Bay Area Air Quality Management District Investigating Source of Foul, Gas-Like Odors in Alameda: The Bay Area Air… http://dlvr.it/8GGL6 […]

  • DHL

    and more importantly, the AFD YET AGAIN creates a situation where BAAQMD is not onsite during the event and is not able to take air samples AT THE TIME OF THE EVENT. WHY does the AFD persist in not protecting us in this manner??? It’s their’s job to 1. assess the geographic extensiveness and smell-intensity of the problem by the number and types of complaints and the geographic locations of those complaint (over 20 I heard from west end to bay farm!), 2. to assess the smell and intensity itself, and 3. to be able to discern intensity, pervasiveness, and magnitude, and then to question–on our behalves—whether there may be a toxic condition here and bring BAAQMD ONSITE DURING THE EVENT to confirm/deny the toxicity. Just like the FISC fire—when the west end should have been evacuated and a hazmat cleanup conducted by state agencies—last Thursday evening, we probably should have had a ‘shelter in place’ warning…but because the AFD insists on underperforming, we’ll never know what the air quality was that night…. We have a right to know and be protected at the time of these toxic events. AGAIN: WHY DOES THE AFD PERSIST IN PROTECTING THE PEOPLE/COMPANIES CREATING THE TOXIC AIR AND NOT PROTECTING US THE RESIDENTS, THEIR CHARGES????

  • Anon

    Now that Gilmore is Mayor elect, and Tam the leaker is in by default after losing, the Fire Department doesn’t have to do anything except photograph their next chief filling up at the Company’ pump. What a bunch of crooks!

  • […] Bay Area Air Quality Management District Investigating Source of … Nov 9, 2010 … The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has opened an investigation into activities at … […]

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