Chevron Corporation reaped $26.9 billion in profits last year. That's right: $26.9 billion. Yet for reasons still to be explained, the San Ramon-based company declined to spend any of that cash on replacing a small, aging section of pipe at its Richmond refinery during an inspection last fall. Last week, that eight-inch pipe began to leak oil profusely before igniting a fireball that could be seen throughout the Bay Area and unleashing a giant plume of smoke that sickened hundreds of nearby residents.
Pollution and the environment have always been big issues for Californians. A statewide survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California last month showed that approximately half the state’s residents see air pollution as a serious threat to their health.
Among African Americans and Latinos, concern is even greater. The majority of those polled in these groups believe that people in lower-income areas are disproportionately affected by air pollution.
If you saw the lead story of today's San Francisco Chronicle, you would have seen a photo of a long line of people outside a lawyer's office in Richmond, near a sign that says: "Chevron Claims Filed Here."
Last night’s fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond put city residents in a state of panic. The fire sent up a huge plume of black smoke, stopping traffic, closing bridges, and shutting down BART stations.
The large-scale chemical fire still has local residents concerned for their health and safety. Many say they heard about the fire late, and that the multi-lingual phone system that is supposed to alert the diverse communities of Richmond in case of a disaster didn’t work.