MARTINEZ -- The Contra Costa County Planning Commission on Tuesday will consider a land use permit application from Phillips 66 for a propane recovery project at its Rodeo refinery, along with adoption of a final environmental impact report.

But some residents of unincorporated Rodeo and Crockett are crying foul, saying the refinery first should be made to comply with all the conditions of its current permit.

The county says Phillips has largely complied with the terms of that permit, issued in 2007 to its predecessor in name, ConocoPhillips, for a Clean Fuels Expansion Project. But a fence line monitoring system for detecting a variety of pollutants, part of an agreement with a citizens watchdog group, does not work properly, according to a zoning administrator's report last month.

Phillips says its proposed Propane Recovery Project would allow it to recover and sell more propane and butane from the refining process, while decreasing sulfur dioxide emissions by removing sulfur compounds from refinery fuel gas.

The company has pitched the project not only as an environmental boon but as a bonanza for the local economy, promising well-paying jobs, patronage of downtown businesses and tax revenues for public agencies.

But many residents, including some with personal experience of chemical releases from the refinery over the years, say the project's environmental report does not sufficiently address dangers of storing large quantities of potentially explosive propane and butane and transporting them by rail.


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The project would add, among other infrastructure, a large steam boiler, propane and butane recovery equipment, six propane storage vessels and treatment facilities, and two new rail spurs.

Dave Black, who works with the community group, wrote to the county this week asking to postpone Tuesday's proceeding until the fence line monitoring system works as agreed, and to allow additional time to study the impacts contained in the project's complex environmental report.

County Senior Planner William Nelson said Friday that once a hearing is scheduled and publicly noticed, the county has an obligation to hold it. However, he said, the Planning Commission has the discretion to open a meeting and continue it.

Phillips spokesman Mark Hughes said Friday he expects his company will be found in compliance with the pending condition when it goes before the county zoning administrator again in March.

Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760. Follow him at Twitter.com/tomlochner.

IF YOU GO:
What: Contra Costa Planning Commission
Where: 30 Muir Road, Martinez
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
To view the report and other documents online, go to http://ca-contracostacounty.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter. Click on "Conservation and Development," then "EIRs and Negative Declarations," then "Phillips 66 Propane Recovery."