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Update: Over 900 Have Visited Local Emergency Rooms Since Refinery Fire

Medical centers in Richmond and San Pablo have seen almost 1,000 patients who reported respiratory problems and eye irritation.

Update, 1 p.m. Wednesday:

About 600 people have visited Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo since Monday's fire at the Chevron refinery, hospital spokeswoman Remy Goldsmith said on Wednesday. That brings to more than 900 Doctors Medical Center in the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Richmond in three days.

Patients reported symptoms such as irritated eyes and respiratory difficulties, with most of them being released after treatment, Goldsmith said.

Health officials have yet to determine what kind of chemicals or particles spewed high into the air. Air samples collected during the incident are being analyzed, and results might be available from county health officials Tuesday afternoon.

Doctors Medical Center, a public hospital with the largest emergency room in the region, closed outside air circulation shortly after the 6:30 p.m. Monday, according to a statement released by Doctors.

The center prepared to receive on Tuesday "a high demand at the hospital throughout the day," the statement read.

Randy Sawyer, chief environmental and hazardous materials officer
for Contra Costa Health Services, said about 18,800 calls were made over the
agency's automated emergency phone alert system on Monday. The call advised people to stay indoors, keep windows and doors closed and turn off heat and air conditioning units.

The fire at a crude oil unit sent smoke drifting high in the sky over North Richmond, Richmond, San Pablo and El Cerrito. The plume then headed east, toward central Contra Costa and Solano counties. There have been reports of smoke reaching Oakland.

Chevron has scheduled a public meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Richmond Civic Auditorium. The refinery has 72 hours to file a formal report about the incident, as required by law. Refinery officials have yet to announce the cause of the fire.

The most recent serious accident with a widespread release of chemicals from the refinery occurred seven years ago.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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See more of Patch's Chevron fire coverage:

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Redrock August 08, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Where is our notable elected [seeking re-election] Mayor Roy during this crisis? If his cell phone number is available 24-7, why couldn’t he pick up his phone to the Pinole Patch and leave a message? What a prime waste of free PR time during a community disaster.. just send a simple message that he is aware of the serious problem and ready to assist in all means necessary and ready to lead the community to safety. You always wait for a time of crisis to judge a leader.. well Pinole here’s your example… Loser- what a loser!
Chris F. August 10, 2012 at 04:07 PM
People coming from all over to get in that pay line. I loved the interview i saw with the guy standing in the middle of the street talking about how fearful he was for his family and they were all standing looking at the plume but not sheltering in place. Payday!

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