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San Jose Mercury News: Shell refinery release prompts warning

By Cassandra Braun
A potentially hazardous chemical release at the Shell refinery in Martinez this afternoon prompted authorities to issue a shelter-in-place warning to residents. Sirens sounded and automatic telephone warnings began about 4:15 p.m. after a sulfur dioxide release at the refinery. Residents were advised to stay inside and close windows and doors.
The extent of the release was not immediately known, but there did not appear to be a fire, said Steve Morioka, Contra Costa County Health Services hazardous materials specialist.
Sulfur dioxide has a distinctive odor and is a strong irritant to eyes and throat and also causes breathing difficulty for people with asthma, Morioka said.
Authorities had no further details.

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