Investigators await access to California oil refinery

The same federal investigators who probed the Gulf Coast oil spill were waiting Thursday for access to the charred crude oil unit of a Chevron refinery where a fire has helped push gas prices close to $4 a gallon along the West Coast after sending a towering plume of smoke into San Francisco Bay area skies.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board team was waiting with state and company inspectors to do structural and environmental tests to see if it was safe to enter the unit and determine when production might resume after the Monday night blaze.

The average price of regular gasoline jumped in California from $3.86 a gallon Tuesday to $3.94 on Thursday, according to the website GasBuddy.com.

Some experts expect the disruption in production to last for weeks and push prices beyond $4 a gallon.The Richmond refinery produces 16 percent of the region’s daily gasoline supply.

Arrowhead reaches finals of online fashion contest

Arrowhead, a Yarmouth-based organic clothing company, is a finalist in the third annual Start Small, Go Big contest on the fashion website DailyCandy.

The Maine company is one of 18 finalists in six categories, chosen from more than 2,500 entries. The contest recognizes small businesses with big potential.

The woman’s clothing line led by designer Suzanne MacFayden is a finalist in the fashion category. It is up against Afia, a company from Ghana, and Lauren Nevada, a Brooklyn-based designer.

The contest’s other categories are food & drink, home, health & beauty, digital & tech and most inventive. The winner in each category will be determined by online voting at www.dailycandy.com/startsmallgobig/the-vote.html.

Winners will receive a trip to New York City to meet with mentors in their industry, promotion through the DailyCandy network and an invitation to a private party with industry insiders.

Disability groups call for boycott of cheese packs

Disability groups in France are calling for a boycott of some Babybel cheese following accusations that a promotional summer toy insults the mentally ill.

Toy inkpads featuring the term “Mentally ill holidays” were included as free gifts throughout July in bags of Mini Babybel, the round cheese with the iconic red wax coating.

In using the slogan “des vacances de malade mental,” Babybel seized on the youth slang expression “malade mental,” which means “extraordinary.” Babybel later admitted the slogan was not properly thought out.

France’s leading association for the mentally handicapped, Unapei, called for a nationwide boycott of the cheese packs Monday.

Babybel apologized Wednesday, prompting disability groups to limit their boycott only to the packs containing the toys with the toy inkpads.

— From staff and news services