VALLEJO (CBS13) — An explosion and fire ripped through storage tanks at the NuStar energy facility in Crocket Tuesday, sending flames and smoke billowing into the skies.
Two large tanks containing ethanol went up in flames, and two other tanks, one with jet fuel, were threatened.
At one point, a small vegetation fire sparked but was put out. The fire was burning just a few hundred feet from Interstate 80. CHP closed the highway on both sides for safety reasons and reopened the road around 9:20 p.m.
“The traffic was crazy, bumper to bumper, even fast track wasn’t moving, that was probably the worst of it,” Vallejo resident Josh Castillo said.
It was quite the commute back to Vallejo for Jeff Rutan, who kept a positive attitude.
“I was in traffic for three hours. Throw on Waze and listened to music,” Rutan said.
Contra Costa County Public Health did issue a shelter in place for the Town of Rodeo, south of the fire, and Crocket, to the north, due to possibly hazardous chemicals.
Patrick Dehaan, the head of petroleum analysis at Gas Buddy, says since the facility was not a refinery, but more of a place where refinery products are stored, the impacts with this loss of ethanol will be minimal.
“Generally, California receives ethanol by trains and these trains are coming on a nonstop basis, so there should not be a pricing impact at all,” Dehaan said.
He says drivers should not be concerned with prices going up at the pump. But that the danger is if the fire spreads to other products.
“That would be more of the concern if this does spread to tanks that do have petroleum in them, there would obviously be more air quality risk, a health risk,” Dehaan said.
Dehaan said he does not expect there to be gas price increases at the pumps because of this fire.
NuStar also said around 8 p.m. that they are investigating whether Monday night’s 4.5 magnitude earthquake in Pleasant Hill could have contributed to the fire and explosion at the facility.