Alright folks, it’s the day we’ve all been waiting for!

Drum roll please……………….

Image from MSNBC

Cal/OSHA has issued its fine on Chevron for the Aug. 6th fire at the Richmond Refinery!

Yup, it’s nearly a million dollars, the most the agency has ever imposed on an oil refinery in California, but is it enough to make Chevron change its ways?

Rep. George Miller has his doubts, stating “I believe it alone is an insufficient assurance to the West County residents and the refinery’s workers that they will receive the necessary safety protections they deserve.”  He even continues to say that, “Our community needs more than just promises that safety will improve. We need to see actual changes at this facility implemented and verified.”

Although, it seems the residents of Richmond have George on their side, Chevron is not willing to surrender just yet.  Chevron is planning to appeal the fine, sending this ruling back to the depth of bureaucracy while the Richmond community lays waiting for a potentially worse disaster.

Chevron has already had two major fires in the past five years!  With the pipes at the Chevron Richmond Refinery acting as a ticking time-bomb, how are residents expected to believe that Chevron is putting safety first?

OSHA claimed that Chevron did not even follow the recommendations of its own inspectors to replace the corroded pipe that ultimately ruptured and caused the fire; did not follow its own emergency shutdown procedures when the leak was identified; and did not protect its employees working at the leak site.

Ok, so back to the $1 million dollar fine.  Has the sticker shock worn off yet?

The reality is that $1 million dollars to Chevron means something much different than $1 million to me (and probably you, too).  And, the fine, in and of itself, is not going to protect the families living in the community.

15,000 people were rushed to local hospitals following the Aug. 6th fire.  Independent testing of the fallout following the fire showed the presence of highly carcinogenic chemicals on our window sills, outdoor furniture and play equipment.  Does a million dollar fine compensate for that?

The more we talk about the amount of the fine, the less we’re talking about the safety of the community residents.  It’s really clear to see that Chevron is putting profits over people, YET AGAIN!

So how are we really going to hold Chevron responsible?  Cal/OSHA took the lead by issuing the largest fine allowed by the State, but we – the community residents- need to make sure it’s enforced.  We need to make sure Chevron is following through on its commitment to safety with persistent follow-up.

Image from Fit For Life: Richmond, CA

Agencies move slow and court proceedings move even slower, but we can never forget the risks Chevron poses to our community and we must fight tirelessly to ensure that Chevron is operating in the safest possible way, to protect our children, parents and the broader community.