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Malfunction triggers smoke, shuts Shell California refinery

Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:46pm BST

(Reuters) – A malfunctioning unit released heavy black smoke and was shut down at Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s (RDSa.L) 156,400 barrel per day (bpd) Martinez, California, refinery on Tuesday, according to the Contra Coast County Health Department Hazardous Materials Program.

Shell advised nearby neighbours that they might smell a propane odour while they were shutting down some equipment, according to a message sent to area residents.

A Shell representative was not immediately available to discuss refinery operations.

The Contra Costa Health Department issued a Level 2 Emergency notice warning those with breathing problems to remain indoors.

Heavy smoke from the Martinez refinery triggered widespread news media coverage in the San Francisco Bay area Tuesday. On Monday, a fire on the hydrocracking unit (HCU) at the Shell Martinez refinery.

Contra Costa Hazmat said smoke appeared to come from a unit other than the HCU.

A huge fire on August 6 at the Chevron Corp (CVX.N) refinery in nearby Richmond, California, spread dense black smoke across the Bay area.

(Reporting by NR Sethuraman, Soma Das in Bangalore and Erwin Seba in Houston; Editing by Bernard Orr and Leslie Gevirtz)


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