Air samples collected during the Oct. 15 NuStar Energy tank fire in Crockett did not show unusually high levels of toxic substances.
Local smoke impacts were minimized due to the extreme heat of the fire and weather conditions, said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer.
“The release of smoke into residential neighborhoods is always a serious public health risk,” said Dr. Farnitano. “Thankfully, the actual health impact in our communities from this incident was not as serious as it could have been.”
Realtime air-quality measurements done by Contra Costa’s Hazardous Materials specialists during the fire showed that nearby neighborhoods did experience high levels of smoke particulates in the air.
Short-term exposure to smoke particulates can irritate the throat, lungs and eyes, particularly in people with asthma or other respiratory conditions. Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) ordered residents of Crockett, Rodeo and the northern portion of Hercules to shelter-in-place during the blaze in order to limit potential exposure to bad air from the fire.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) took four air samples between 3:12 p.m. and 3:34 p.m. near the NuStar facility, which is located 90 San Pablo Ave. in Crockett (see attached). The Air District sent lab results from the samples to CCHS for analysis of possible health impacts.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by numerous agencies. The fire burned two large tanks for several hours during the afternoon and evening of Oct. 15, forcing the closure of Interstate 80.
Less than 6,000 barrels of denatured ethanol, a fuel additive, burned during the fire, along with an unknown quantity of diesel and jet fuel, according to the 72-hour incident report that NuStar was required to submit to HazMat.
Anyone concerned about their exposure to smoke from this incident should contact their healthcare provider.