The Newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Chapter
March - April 2006
Chevron no longer to guard the henhouse
Richmond takes back responsibility for inspecting refinery projects
Richmond has finally reasserted its responsibility to oversee construction projects at the immense Chevron refinery with its vast volumes of toxic and explosive chemicals.
Since 1992 a city ordinance exempted Chevron from city inspections, or even from having to apply to the city for permits, for almost all construction projects. On Jan. 10 the City Council unanimously voted to finalize the repeal of the city's "Certified Inspection Program" and the permit exemption for "process equipment".
"Under Richmond's self-inspection program, Chevron was able to shield its projects from adequate public review for health and safety," said Greg Feere of the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council. "The action by the City Council is the first step in ensuring that Chevron projects are built cleaner and safer."
The Richmond Sunshine Alliance, consisting of Communities for a Better Environment, the West County Toxics Coalition, the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council, the Richmond Greens, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, and Contra Costa Faithworks, provided leadership for bringing about this change.
The Sierra Club supported this work of the Sunshine Alliance. West County Group ExComm member Rita Minjares testified for it on behalf of the Club at the City Council.
The Alliance cited examples of Chevron's misuse of the self-inspection program and process-equipment exemption.
Now Chevron's projects will be subject to the light of day for the first time in over a decade. The Sierra Club and the general public will have an opportunity to demand environmental review to ensure that Chevron builds its projects as cleanly and safely as possible. We will, of course, have to be vigilant to ensure that this happens.
© 2006 San Francisco Sierra Club Yodeler
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