Category Archives: Air Monitoring

Ralph Dennis comments on ISO, Benicia City Council, 17 July 2018

Public Comment – Council deliberation on whether to reconsider ISO vote of 19 June 2018

By Ralph Dennis, Benicia, June 17, 2018
Ralph Dennis, Chair, Progressive Democrats of Benicia, Member of Benicia ISO Working Group

Good evening. My name is Ralph Dennis, I’m a resident of Benicia with my wife Vicki. I am also one of the members of the ISO Working Group, and also chair of the Progressive Democrats of Benicia. The Progressive Democrats have been supporters of a Benicia ISO from the beginning of the working group. At its June meeting, PDB members voted unanimously in support of the draft Benicia ISO ordinance presented to Council on June 19.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight.

I ask that you vote tonight to reconsider your June 19 vote concerning an Industrial Safety Ordinance for Benicia.

If the desire is, in fact, to finally do something about determining what is in Benicia’s air, and to provide the City better communication with those businesses affecting Benicia’s air and safety – and that IS what I ultimately heard from the Council’s 3 votes that prevailed on June 19 …

Then, there is nothing to be gained by waiting until November.

  • Fence line monitoring, once installed, will tell us virtually nothing about what’s in the air. According to Eric Stephenson, who runs the Air District’s monitoring programs, fence line monitors are “designed for ground level monitoring” and “not for emissions that are lofted”. Meaning air borne emissions, i.e., what’s in the air.
    • So, Valero’s fence line monitoring program is limited at what it will do. Benicia needs a comprehensive, community wide monitoring program, which an ISO would provide and do it much sooner. And, the sooner we get an ISO up and running the quicker the City and community can tap into Air District resources for community monitoring efforts, something else Mr. Stephenson said is possible.
    • The Air District’s AB617 community monitoring program may include Benicia but not until 2024 at the earliest, based on its recently announced schedule.
    • And, related Air District efforts toward community monitoring are yet to be clarified and probably depend upon individual community initiative to kick start.
  • As to Better communications/Is CUPA sufficient?
    • Last week I saw two Public notices published in the Benicia Herald by the Solano Co Environmental Health Division – CUPA – for Risk Management Plans submitted by two Benicia businesses – Praxair and the City of Benicia Water Treatment Plan.
    • These plans reviewed by CUPA are required by state regulations for businesses which handle and use hazardous materials, and are now available for review by the public – for 45 days, and counting.
    • CUPA told me it plans no public meetings. And, when asked, seemed surprised at the question. Also, no copies of Plans for review on-line, or in public libraries like Contra Costa Co officials have done – we need to go to Fairfield to see the Plans.

I don’t know if anyone in the City was notified by these businesses when their Plans were being prepared or when the Plans were filed. Presumably, you saw the Water Treatment Plant’s plan. But, neither existing state regulations, nor CUPA, provided any means for review or comment – until after the fact, plans already filed and reviewed.

Is publication in a local, soon to be 3 days a week paper with limited circulation to be the extent of communication with the Benicia community? With the City?

On plans that affect the community’s air and safety?

A Benicia ISO would make the City and community partners with businesses in the development of these Plans – not a bystander, at best. And, not depend upon CUPA for communication.

I also asked CUPA whether a Risk Management Plan had been submitted by Valero:

  • Filed in December 2017, but is still under review by CUPA staff.
  • And, I don’t know if anyone at Valero gave the City a heads up last December that the Risk Management Plan was ready to be filed. Or, asked whether the City wanted to take a look at the Plan before it was filed.
  • You know, as a courtesy, or even in an effort to improve communication.
  • But, in any event, CUPA said its Public Notice will be published once review is done. Then, we the public get to see it – including the City of Benicia and its community…for a 45-day period…to provide comments…on a Plan already reviewed and, seemingly, ready for approval. Don’t expect any public meetings from CUPA, and better make sure your subscription is up to date with the newspaper.

For the sake of the community, please vote tonight to reconsider your June 19 3-2 vote, so we can get on with the business of considering an ISO for Benicia.

Thank you.

Respectfully submitted,

Ralph E. Dennis

    CALL TO ACTION: Attend Benicia City Council on Tuesday, July 17!

    An email from Kathy Kerridge, Benicia
    [Editor: For meeting agenda and materials, see Benicia City Council to vote whether to reconsider vote on ISO.  For much more, see our Benicia ISO page.  If you can’t attend, note below for info on where to write. – RS]

    Support a Benicia Industrial Safety Ordinance on 7/17

    Kathy Kerridge, Benicia

    Come support an Industrial Safety Ordinance at Benicia City Council on July 17 at 7:00 p.m.  This is a chance for the City Council to have staff review a proposed ordinance and move forward with making sure that Benicia has a seat at the table when it comes to safety.

    An Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO) would ensure that Benicia has a network of air monitors, and a robust emergency response plan. Benicia is the only refinery town in the Bay Area without an ISO.

    The Council will be reconsidering their decision to kick the can down the road.  Councilmembers Schwartzman, Hughes and Campbell voted at the last hearing to postpone this important decision until after the November election, while Patterson and Young wanted to move forward now.   This is a chance for them to get it right.

    If you can’t come, please email (see below).

    Kathy Kerridge


    WHERE TO WRITE…

    EMAIL THE CITY:
    Mayor Elizabeth Patterson (epatterson@ci.benicia.ca.us)
    Vice Mayor Steve Young (syoung@ci.benicia.ca.us)
    Tom Campbell (tcampbell@ci.benicia.ca.us
    Mark Hughes (Mark.Hughes@ci.benicia.ca.us)
    Alan Schwartzman (aschwartzman@ci.benicia.ca.us)
    City Manager Lorie Tinfow (ltinfow@ci.benicia.ca.us)
    City Attorney Heather McLaughlin (Heather.McLaughlin@ci.benicia.ca.us)
    Fire Chief Josh Chadwick (JChadwick@ci.benicia.ca.us)
    Police Chief Erik Upson (EUpson@ci.benicia.ca.us)

    MAIL / PHONE / OFFICES:
    Mail to or visit City Hall: 250 East L Street, Benicia, CA 94510
    Phone numbers are listed on the City’s CONTACT PAGE

    SEND YOUR THOUGHTS TO THE NEWS MEDIA:

    • Benicia Herald, 820 First St, Benicia, CA 94510, or by email to the editor at beniciaherald@gmail.com
    • Vallejo Times-Herald, P.O. Box 3188, Vallejo, CA 94590, Fax: 643-0128, or by email to Editor Jack Bungart at opinion@timesheraldonline.com.
    • Benicia Independent – send to Roger at rogrmail at this URL.

    POST TO SOCIAL MEDIA (some require membership):

      Questionable community outreach by Air District for Industrial Safety Ordinance audits

      From local emails…

      FIRST ROUND OF EMAILS…

      From: Roger Straw
      Sent: Friday, July 06, 2018 9:45 AM
      Subject: FW: [BAAQMD Coalition] Questionable community outreach for Industrial Safety Ordinance audits

      This is amazing – read below, from bottom, up.  (Click on the image for larger display.)  And then come back and ask a couple of questions:

      1. Does Solano County have to report to the public like this now – even under current regulations?  Do they publish a notice like the one Nancy sent from Crockett?  Is this something that our newbie “CUPA” needs to be doing on our behalf?
      2. If/when we have an ISO, what assurances do we have the Hazardous Materials staff (Contra Costa OR Solano) would be any more attentive to Benicia citizens’ needs.  (Randy Sawyer should be embarrassed by this.)

      I think the Working Group could be making a big deal out of this!  I think I’ll post about it on the BenIndy.

      Roger


      Begin forwarded message:

      On Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 3:28 PM Nancy Rieser via BAAQMD Network wrote:

      The Contra Costa Health Department considers a booth behind an elementary school two blocks away from a street fair in Crockett as a “public meeting..”   They reckon that the booth where they will be twiddling their fingers while the locals drink and dance a few blocks away will meet its obligation to hold a face-to-face public meeting.

      Guess we are lucky.  Martinez gets its face-to-face at a Christmas tree farm in August on National Night Out.

      I called the Health Department:  The gentleman who answered the phone said that apparently nobody cares enough to hear this kind of information and they won’t hold a meeting unless they can get a guaranteed audience of 25 people.  Neither will they mail notices to individual homes about their meeting to hustle the crowds.  “It is too expensive.”

      LATER, VERY INTERESTING!

      From: Ralph Dennis
      Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 12:26 PM
      Subject: ISO related

      I noticed in the Benicia Herald this morning two public notices for Risk Management Plans prepared by Solano County Department of Resource Management, one for Praxair and the other for Benicia’s Water Treatment Plant. These are part of the 5-year audit review process, I believe, the same reports referenced in the Contra Costa County notice you sent around the other day.

      I figured there ought to be one for Valero, so I called the Solano County Department of Resource Management. Turns out the Valero plan was filed in Dec. 2017 and is still under review. The staffer I spoke with who is doing the review is suppose to call me about status. Interesting, I guess: no public meetings planned, copies of plans not available in our library (as in Contra Costa County). He seemed surprised at my question about public meetings, said he could check with management.

      CCHMP public notice meetings July-Aug 2018