MARTINEZ, Calif. (KRON) — Contra Costa Health (CCH) has issued a health advisory for residents who live near the Martinez Refinery, following the department cautioning residents against eating produce grown in exposed gardens. CCH is advising residents near the Martinez refinery not to eat produce grown in soil that may have been exposed to “spent catalyst” with heavy metals until further environmental testing is done.

“We are making this recommendation out of an abundance of caution,” said Dr. Ori Tzvieli, health officer for Contra Costa County. “There is no immediate health threat to the community. That said, it’s also always better to be safe than sorry.”

According to Tzvieli, neighbors of the refinery in Martinez and Pacheco can safely plant seeds in their yards and gardens. But he cautioned that residents wait for the results of environmental tests before eating anything grown in soils potentially exposed to spent catalyst. Testing results are expected in late spring or early summer.

Spent catalyst is a dust-like metal material that was released by the refinery on Thanksgiving and the day after. It blanketed the yards of many area residents.

“Until communitywide soil testing is completed, Contra Costa Health (CCH) recommends that no one consume fruits or vegetables grown in soil exposed to substances released on November 24 and 25, 2022, in communities surrounding the Martinez Refining Company, 3485 Pacheco Boulevard,” the health advisory read in part.

“CCH makes this recommendation out of an abundance of caution. At this time, CCH has no evidence that there is or is not a soilborne health risk associated with this incident,” the advisory continued. “The recommendation not to consume produce from these properties will be lifted if the assessment determines there is no increased risk to health as a result of the spent-catalyst release.