Benicia air monitoring advocate Marilyn Bardet spoke powerfully at a recent workshop held by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the California Air Resources Board. Her comments nicely summarize the longstanding neglect of air monitoring in Benicia and the need for state and regional agencies to include Benicia in upcoming community outreach regarding AB617, the Community Air Protection Program.
Here is the 2-minute video clip of Marilyn and the encouraging 1-minute response from the BAAQMD’s Greg Nudd. Below is more info and the video of the full workshop.
Highly recommended: highly informative video of the entire 2:39 minute workshop:
Full length video of the January 31, 2018 workshop, 2 hours 39 minutes. (Note that audio doesn’t start until minute 13:20, and the meeting begins at 15:55. You can move the slider forward to skip the first part.)
MORE about AB617, the Community Air Protection Program:
Sen. Dodd seeks higher fines for illegal refinery emissions
Friday, February 16, 2018
SACRAMENTO – Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) introduced a new bill to help deter harmful emissions from oil refineries. The bill would increase fines for serious violations of emissions standards that sicken people or force shelter-in-place orders.
“There are already fines on the books for illegal refinery emissions, but the most common fine hasn’t been increased since Richard Nixon was in the White House,” said Senator Dodd. “When people are sickened by refinery emissions or forced to shelter-in-place, there should be stiffer penalties. My bill reinforces that oil companies should take proactive steps to avoid violations in the first place.”
Dodd’s bill, SB 1144, would triple existing fines for violations of emissions standards if the violations cause a health problem or impact over 25 people. Existing law doesn’t allow increased penalties for violations that injure nearby residents or for refineries with multiple violations. Currently, the maximum amount for the most common level of fines is $10,000 and hasn’t been adjusted since 1974.
Dodd’s bill would set the new fine at $30,000, and if refineries are found negligent, the amount would go up to $75,000 per day. In instances where a refinery fails to correct a known violation or intentionally violates standards, the violations would be even greater. For serial offenders with multiple serious violations within 36 months, the fines could be as much as $500,000 per day.
“Representing communities that house several refineries, I want to encourage the industry to be proactive in meeting their duty to neighboring residents,” said Senator Dodd. “This measure isn’t a silver bullet for addressing safety, but it certainly provides greater incentive to act responsibly.”
Senator Dodd’s district includes the majority of the Bay Area’s refineries. In September 2016, numerous Vallejo residents were sickened by a refinery incident that triggered over 1,500 complaints. The state’s Office of Emergency Services reported that area hospitals and medical facilities treated 120 patients for headaches, nausea, dizziness, and burning of the eyes, nose and throat. The Bay Area Air Quality Management issued a notice of violation to the refinery in Rodeo for that incident.
The funds from the fines in Dodd’s bill would be available to support more robust monitoring and enforcement. The bill is expected to come up for a committee vote next month.
Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa Counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.
TOWN HALL MEETING TONIGHT!
An Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO)
To learn more about ISO Benicia,
please attend a panel discussion with State Officials, and Contra Costa County experts on why and how Benicia can better protect our community.
Why: Currently, Benicia is the only refinery town in the Bay Area not protected by an ISO. In Contra Costa County, the county Hazardous Materials Division of the Health Department is responsible for enforcing an ISO that governs the three refineries in the county unincorporated areas – Shell, Tesoro and Phillips 66. The City of Richmond has an ordinance that mirrors the county’s and contracts with Contra Costa County for enforcement activities governing the Chevron refinery and other industries.
When:TODAY!Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 7pm.
Where: The Benicia Public Library in the Doña Benicia Room at 150 East L St. in Benicia.
Gregory Vlasek, Local Program Coordination and Emergency Response, California Environmental Protection Agency
Clyde Trombettas, Statewide Manager and Policy Advisor for California OSHA, Process Safety Management Unit
Randy Sawyer, Contra Costa County Chief Environmental Health and Hazardous Materials Officer
John Gioia, Contra Costa County Supervisor
Staff representatives from Solano County were invited to participate and declined the invitation.
You: There will also be an opportunity for the public to ask questions and make comments at the end of the presentations.
What is the purpose of an Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO)? The main goal of an Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO) is to prevent and/or minimize the effects of devastating accidents on the employees close to the accident and the surrounding communities.
Why does Benicia need this when the State has an ISO? After the near-catastrophic May 5th Valero Refinery emergency shutdown and major flaring incident, it was even more apparent that Benicia is at risk without an ISO. Benicia is the only jurisdiction in the East Bay with a refinery or chemical industry that does not have a local safety ordinance such as the City of Richmond and other refinery communities have. The City of Benicia is covered by Cal/OSHA and Cal/EPA safety regulations. However, there are additional concerns not addressed by Cal/OSHA and Cal/EPA, such as no direct safety reports filed at the City of Benicia, leaving Benicia in the dark. An ISO would correct this and other safety matters.
How would this improve communications between Valero and the community of Benicia? A local ISO would facilitate cooperation between industry, the City, the County, local fire departments, Cal/OSHA, Cal/EPA, other agencies that have oversight of businesses, and the public in the prevention and reduction of incidents at refineries like Valero. An ISO would also establish local air quality monitors for access to real time data.
Why is the Valero refinery the only Bay Area refinery not involved with a county or local ISO? In 1998 Contra Costa County adopted an ISO, and revised and updated it after the Chevron fire. The City of Richmond also has a local ISO. These ISOs require among other things, refineries and other chemical businesses to submit a safety plan, undergo safety audits, and have risk management plans, each of which would allow more community input and access. The Contra Costa ISO has been praised as the best safety ordinance in the country, so effective that Cal/OSHA and Cal/EPA adopted many elements for state regulation and oversight. Benicia is the only city in Solano County that is home to refinery and currently our County has no plans to develop an ISO. It is up to the City of Benicia to develop and implement its own.
How would the ISO be managed and can Benicia afford it? Contra Costa County’s ISO enables the county to collect fees from industrial facilities to pay for comprehensive public safety alerts and local information about environmental risks and exposure to toxins due to an “event”.
What are the next steps and how can I get involved? Because Benicia deserves to be properly protected and informed, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community, Progressive Democrats of Benicia, The Benicia Independent, Carquinez Patriotic Resistance, Communities For a Better Environment and additional community groups are urging the City Council to adopt and implement an Industrial Safety Ordinance for Benicia. To learn more and get involved, visit BeniciaIndependent.com. To write to Benicia city staff and council members, see below…
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 email@example.com AND
Vallejo Times-Herald, P.O. Box 3188, Vallejo, CA 94590, Fax: 643-0128, or by email to Editor Jack Bungart at firstname.lastname@example.org.