A Chevron refinery near San Francisco has exploded a mushroom cloud of toxic smoke over the East Bay. It’s not the first time. And a large angry crowd says it had better be the last.
They lined up at the town hall meeting with refinery officials, berating them for not doing enough to protect neighboring communities. At least one yelled for the refinery to be shut down. Joining in were farmers displaying ruined produce.
Probably most infuriating to those suffering adverse health effects are testing results claiming the air concentration of 23 chemicals, including ethanol, freon and benzene “to be below harmful levels.” It is dishonest for officials to withhold the fact that safety data on these levels applies only to chemicals individually. Tests cannot analyze true toxicity when chemicals are combined.
The company should compensate everyone harmed by this explosion - no excuses - and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Tell Chevron to implement proper safety regulations to stop refinery explosions.
We, the undersigned, expect Chevron to take full responsibility for all damages caused by the explosion at its Richmond refinery and do what is necessary to prevent this from happening again.
It is no secret that it's not the first explosion that has occurred at this refinery. As the Examiner points out “A fire in 2007 was also triggered by a leaky pipe. And ConsumerWatchdog.org claims this week's incident was nearly identical to one in 1999 that sickened over 1200 people.”
Furthermore it is dishonest for McKay at Bay Area Air Quality Management District to suggest this explosion has been harmless to air quality by withholding facts about the limitations of testing effects of combined chemicals in the air.
Discussing the issue of combined chemical exposures, Dr. Phillip Landrigran of Mt Sinai School of Medicine told USA Today in 2008 that "The fundamental problem is truly how little we know about interactions.”
Likewise WHO pointed out :
It is important to note that guidelines have been established for single
chemicals. Mixtures of chemicals can have additive, synergistic or antagonistic effects. In general, our knowledge of these interactions is rudimentary.
Although your company told the press it will “compensate residents for medical and property expenses incurred as a result of the fuel-propelled blaze,” it must not use excuses like the limitations of air quality testing to assume safety and therefore deny those who suffered legitimate ill effects.
Though, as Consumer Watchdog points out, divided and ineffective oversight has allowed Chevron to repeatedly get away with this negligence, it is ultimately up to Chevron to make the necessary changes.
We request that you immediately implement proper safety measures to ensure such an explosion will never occur again. Certainly your company has the money to pay for what is necessary.
Thank you for your time.