MARTINEZ

Tesoro refinery fined for 35 air violations

The Tesoro oil refinery has agreed to pay $472,000 in civil penalties for 35 alleged air pollution violations -- some related to a 2010 emission release that triggered shelter in place warnings for neighbors.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District reported Wednesday that it reached the settlement with the Tesoro's Golden Eagle refinery east of Martinez to resolve a series of district violation notices between 2009 and 2011.

Two violations were for power failures in 2010 that shut down the refinery, resulting in flaring and smoke that triggered a public shelter in place warning from Contra Costa County's community warning system.

Since then, Tesoro has improved its power delivery systems, the air pollution district said.

Other violations stemmed from a fire during tank maintenance, excessive boiler pollution, excessive hydrogen sulfide, two inaccurate pollution monitors and late emission reports, the air district reported.

-- Denis Cuff, Staff

RICHMOND

Fuel tanker explodes inside building

Four men escaped injury Wednesday when fumes inside a fuel tanker exploded inside a building, a fire official said.

The explosion about 11:35 a.m. rocked QualaWash, located at 2750 Goodrick Ave. near the Richmond Parkway. The blast blew a 10-foot hole in the building's steel roof, Richmond fire Battalion Chief Merlin Turner said.


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The company offers cleaning services for tankers, and the men were treating a double-tanker that carries gasoline, Turner said.

The fuel vapors were ignited by a spark from a liquid asphalt truck that was idling nearby as part of its cleaning process, Turner said.

Both vehicles were destroyed.

-- Rick Hurd, Staff

WALNUT CREEK

Passenger in stolen truck arrested

A Concord woman was arrested after police pursued a stolen truck from Highway 242 onto side streets in Walnut Creek on Monday night, but police were still looking for the driver.

Samantha Hurley, 22, was a passenger in the vehicle, which police spotted on Clayton Road near the Highway 242 onramp around 8:45 p.m., Concord police Lt. Robin Heinemann said. Police learned the truck was stolen from a home in San Ramon, and the driver took off when officers tried to pull it over, Heinemann said.

The truck led police onto Interstate 680 before exiting in Walnut Creek, police said. The pursuit reached speeds of 50 mph on Newell Avenue but ended when the truck turned onto Andrea Court.

The driver got out and escaped. Hurley was arrested on suspicion of possessing a stolen vehicle, police said. A stolen motorcycle was found in the truck, police said.

-- Rick Hurd, Staff

San Jose

$500K worth of liquid meth confiscated

A 17-year-old boy from Mexico was arrested New Year's Eve at Mineta San Jose International Airport after he tried to smuggle more than one gallon of liquid methamphetamine into the country, according to federal authorities.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers searched the boy's baggage and discovered five one-liter tequila bottles containing a clear liquid. Laboratory tests confirmed that the liquid was methamphetamine with an estimated street value of more than $500,000, according to federal agents.

The boy flew from Mexico to San Jose on the afternoon of Dec. 31.

The methamphetamine was seized and the boy was turned over to San Jose police, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Frank Falcon said drug cartels often "test us and see what they can get away with."

-- Mark Gomez, Staff

LIVERMORE

Memorial Saturday for philanthropist Taylor

The family of philanthropist Barry Taylor, who created a foundation for children living with AIDS, diabetes and other chronic or life-threatening diseases, will hold a public celebration of his life at 2 p.m. Saturday at Camp Arroyo in Livermore.

Taylor, 74, died of a heart attack Nov. 16.

In 1990, Taylor and his wife, Elaine, created The Taylor Family Foundation to raise money for children living with serious illnesses. The central piece of the foundation is Camp Arroyo, which offers free camping experiences to more than 3,000 children annually.

Taylor made his fortune with Taylor Made Copy Systems, a photocopying company he started in 1972. He later sat on the board of the March of Dimes and gave to other local causes.

For details about the memorial, visit www.ttff.org or call 925-455-5118.

-- Karina Ioffee, Staff