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Shell Refinery worker’s body found after a day’s search

Thursday, April 30, 2009

(04-30) 01:22 PDT Martinez —

It isn’t every day that someone vanishes at the Shell refinery in Martinez, where employees have badges, roll call is regularly held and security is so tight that a strict accounting is made of all workers at the plant during shift changes.

Which is why Bill Maddock’s disappearance during his overnight shift was so strange.

A supervisor with more than 20 years experience in the refinery’s logistics department, Maddock went to work as scheduled at 6 p.m. Tuesday, said Shell spokeswoman Teresa Makarewicz. But at 6 a.m. Wednesday when he was supposed to clock out, he was nowhere to be found.

Security crews, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s search and rescue team and tracking dogs searched every nook and cranny of the 1,000 acre-plant but found nothing. Then, at 11:22 p.m., the mystery was unraveled: His body was found inside a water-holding tank.

Now, Martinez police are investigating the death and trying to find out how Maddock ended up inside the tank.

Maddock, who was in his mid-50s, was primarily responsible for the blending of materials, which involves movement of gasoline, diesel and other products from one tank to another.

He was last seen between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. talking to another employee about a routine operational matter, Makarewicz said.

Earlier Wednesday evening, Makarewicz said it was possible Maddock could have fallen into one of the tanks.

“We’re not ruling that out but we don’t want to speculate,” she had said. “I don’t want to just focus on the tanks. We have many acres out here.”

The Martinez refinery employs more than 700 people to operate the plant, which converts up to 165,000 barrels of crude oil a day into automotive gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, petroleum coke, industrial fuel oils, liquefied petroleum gas, asphalt, and sulfur.

Employees use an electronic badge system to sign in and out of the site and Maddock had not signed out. When he was unaccounted for Wednesday morning – and when he failed to return home, the search began.

The grounds of the refinery had been searched multiple times before his body was found in the tank.

E-mail Peter Fimrite at [email protected]

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