Protecting the Water
The El Segundo Refinery is the only refinery in the Los Angeles Basin that receives the majority of its crude supply via ocean tankers. Crude oil is off-loaded into underwater pipelines at our offshore Marine Terminal located several miles offshore, ensuring no impact to residents or the coastline. This terminal is one of the safest, most efficient in operation, and can handle two tankers at once in order to ensure that the crude is transferred from ship to shore without spilling even a drop into the water.
Oil Spill Prevention and Response
The success of our oil spill prevention efforts is demonstrated in the very low incident record at the El Segundo Refinery Marine Terminal. Our Marine Terminal is state of the art with measures in place built into our standard operating procedures to prevent oil reaching the Santa Monica Bay. A few examples are 60 second valves and a continuous vacuum system for the submarine lines when not transferring product.
In addition to our prevention measures, we have a well trained Oil Spill Response Team comprised of over 110 volunteer employees who respond in the event of an oil spill. Throughout the year, these employees, from all areas and job functions in the refinery, work closely with Local, State and Federal agencies to train on our response vessels deploying boom and on our Response Plan protecting the environment. The Chevron El Segundo Refinery maintains 4 oil spill response vessels with 2,000 ft. of boom onboard as well as another 2,000 feet of harbor boom ready to deploy at our local harbors.
Representatives from the team participate in the advisory meetings of our local Oil Spill Response Organization and in the USCG/OSPR Area Committee meetings. Working with the USCG, Department of Fish & Wildlife OSPR and with our OSRO’s, we remain up to date on all regulatory changes and new technologies available in the field of oil spill prevention and response.
We have been very successful in cleaning the groundwater beneath the El Segundo Refinery. Our extensive number of recovery wells has virtually eliminated hydrocarbon vapors in El Segundo and Manhattan Beach. To protect the groundwater, the majority of tanks in the refinery that hold petroleum products have been fitted with double bottoms and leak detection systems. Chevron was the first in the U.S. to adopt a standard for double bottoms on our tanks. In addition, we developed the technology for secondary containment with leak detection.
We have over 1,100 miles of pipe in this facility, most of which used to be buried. Using what we call the “daylighting” process, the pipes have been moved above ground so, in case of a leak, it can be more easily detected. The “sleeving” process, where one pipe is inserted into another pipe, is an additional method we use in order to catch and prevent any leaks.
Subsurface Hydrocarbon Recovery Project
Chevron’s El Segundo Refinery Subsurface Recovery Project was initiated to remove subsurface hydrocarbon vapors from beneath portions of El Segundo and El Porto adjacent to the refinery. The vapor recovery systems consist of networks of approximately 50 extraction wells located in El Porto, 26 wells in El Segundo, 20 wells in the NRG El Segundo Power plant, and a string of 20 wells along the bike path north of NRG. These networks act like giant subsurface vacuums that collect hydrocarbon vapors and route them to incinerators in the refinery where they are consumed. Collectively, the systems removed an estimated 500 gallons (liquid equivalent) of hydrocarbons during the early days of operation and have successfully reduced the vapor levels to nearly zero. Today, these systems are operated to ensure the continued safety of the residents of Manhattan Beach and El Segundo. About 20 wells throughout the two cities are monitored regularly to verify that conditions are safe and stable.
Stormwater and Wastewater Treatment
The El Segundo Refinery is the only industrial facility in the L.A. Basin to operate its own wastewater treatment facility. All of the stormwater runoff and industrial wastewater is treated on site before it is released. We feel that, as experts at testing and treating, we have more control over the quality of the process and less safety risk because the waste is not being transferred to a third party. Moreover, we monitor the process minute by minute and some of the treatment requirements we must meet in order to comply with our National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit are more stringent than the requirements for drinking water. Of the three direct dischargers to the Santa Monica Bay, the other two being municipal sewage plants, our facility accounts for less than one-half percent of the material discharged into the bay.
What is the black gooey stuff on the sand at the beach?
The black, thick deposits that we often see on the beach and floating on the ocean are caused by a naturally-occuring seepage from the ocean bottom called tar. The tar rises to the surface of the ocean and is carried ashore by currents, tides and wind. Geologists believe this tar seepage has been occurring for thousands of years. For more information, please contact our Policy, Government and Public Affairs staff at 310.615.5254.