The Golden Eagle Refinery refines oil into gasoline and other petroleum based products. It is located in the San Francisco Bay Area in an unincorporated area known as Avon, east of Martinez, California. The refinery is owned by Tesoro Petroleum Co.
The refinery is located on 2,200 acres, has approximately 650 full-time employees, and has a crude oil capacity of 166,000 barrels per day. It is the fourth largest refinery in the state. Currently, the refinery has an evaluation of $1 billion.
The refinery was first built in 1913 under the name Avon Refinery, and has been continually expanded since. It was purchased by Tosco in 1976. By the 1990s, a history of poor maintenance and under-staffing gave the refinery a reputation for being a hazardous workplace. Throughout the 1990s, it led the US refining industry in the number of environmental and safety code violations. These poor conditions culminated in two catastrophic accidents. In the first, a 1997 hydrocracker explosion killed one worker. In the second of these, four workers died and a fifth was hospitalized in a 1999 naptha explosion. A maintenance supervisor refused to shut down the unit after corroding valves failed to stop the flow of the extremely hazardous substance.
In November 2010, the refinery had a flaring event, due to a simultaneous PG&E utility power and Foster Wheeler co-generation plant failure, that produced large quantities of thick black smoke.
In February 2015, a nationwide strike by USW represented employees resulted in the closure of the Martinez refinery, the only refinery closure resulting from the strike.
On December 15, 2015, thick smoke and flames could be seen rising up from the refinery. Due to the loss of a primary steam generation unit, flaring was done to release pressure. A Level 2 alert was issued to the community, recommending that they stay indoors due to smoke blowing offsite. The alert was reduced to Level 0 on the same day.