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County Health Deploys HazMat Team After Petroleum Coke Dust Release In Martinez Friday

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The Contra Costa County Health department was notified of a release of petroleum coke dust at the Martinez Refining Company plant on Friday morning, sending a HazMat team to the area to monitor what, if any, effect the release had on surrounding neighborhoods.

Flash users and Facebook subscribers lit up those interfaces with news of the release and “black clouds” reportedly seen soon after.

The release ended soon after it was reported by MRC to Contra Costa County’s Community Warning System. CCH has not found evidence of any immediate risk to public health in surrounding communities.

MRC reported that the release began at 10:31 a.m. while workers were conducting maintenance, which was stopped due to the release.

CCH is aware of the Alhambra High School homecoming parade set for Friday evening. MRC confirmed there will not be additional maintenance on Friday, and they will use a different process to complete the work.

Following an assessment by our health officer, CCH believes the homecoming parade and other community events can proceed as planned.

CCH has asked the facility to provide a 72-hour report regarding the cause of the release, which will be posted HERE.


  1. Yes, well, petroleum coke dust does tend to take on the color of clean coal when it settles on cars, sidewalks, and the shoulders of small children.

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