On August 31, the Trump Administration ordered the closing of San Francisco's Russian Consulate, as well as three others in the US. Immediately following that news, a mysterious plume of smoke emanated from the consulate's chimney, in the midst of September 1's historic heatwave, prompting many journalists to speculate over how many spy documents or computer hard drives were being burned in the consulate's fireplace ahead of a promised inspection by federal agents.
That plume of smoke was also offensive enough to earn a citation from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which we reported on last week. The Mercury News now shares an image of the citation, and it directly names "Sergei [sic] Petrov," referring to the consul general.
It was mailed out on September 8th, six days after the consulate was originally ordered to close. In speaking about whether they expect anything out of the citation, BAAQMD spokesperson Lisa Fasano said, "It’s unclear if we will receive any response." Seems simple enough.
Tom Flannigan, the public information officer for the office, commented on the burn earlier this month to the Chronicle, particularly pointing out its black, sooty shade. He said, "Thick black smoke was observed by a number of witnesses including our inspectors. That kind of burning usually involves a number of things, not just paper."
Flannigan also commented on a hope for a response, saying, "It's our hope that they are receiving and processing their mail. From our perspective, they committed a violation and we are citing them for it. We hope to work with them to settle this."
Chances are admittedly pretty slim that anyone with the Russian consulate staff will respond to the citation. As Al Jazeera reported, the consulate was ordered to close within 48 hours of Trump's order, and workers were spotted hurrying out of the building while black smoke poured from the chimney.