Council receives report and recommendation from staff, will discuss and vote on Tues April 16
The agenda for the Benicia City Council meeting of Tuesday, April 16 was distributed to the public today.
A very important issue will be under consideration: the much-needed update to the City’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), complete with an emergency evacuation plan and plans for mass care and shelter.
The staff report gives a very brief overview and details the process by which the update was developed. At the end of the report are these very important links to the heart of the EOP:
“(The) City of Benicia has issued (an) advisory notice for all residents with respiratory issues due to particulate matter from an ongoing incident at the Valero Benicia Refinery,” the city’s statement reads.
City officials are telling local residents with weakened respiratory systems to close all doors, windows and fireplace dampers, urging them to put tape or damp towels around doors and windows to seal them.
The advisory also recommends that healthy people limit their outdoor activity.
“The concentration of particulate matter has become significantly higher over the past day. The emissions contain coke, a by-product of the refining process that is made up primarily of carbon particles,” the city’s statement says.
Benicia officials said testing of the coke dust released so far did not show heavy metals at harmful levels but warned that breathing in air from the releases could worsen underlying respiratory conditions like asthma.
In a statement, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said inspectors are at the refinery investigating the cause of this heavy smoke. The Air District also deployed a monitoring van to drive throughout Benicia to “gather ground level emissions data.”
Mayor’s request for Benicia Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO)
June 15, 2018
I believe we need to have a seat at the table, the public’s right to know and air monitors to restore the public trust that we are putting health, safety and welfare at the top. I am asking the council to challenge the status quo by submitting a draft Industrial Safety Ordinance. I am asking the council to direct staff to review the draft ordinance with outside third party knowledgeable about industrial safety ordinances and report back to the city within a reasonable time such as 3 months or sooner.
The Industrial Safety Ordinance provides Benicia the where-with-all through proposed fees to review refinery safety, air pollution and public safety reports, update Benicia Emergency Response Plan, improve public alerts system and provide for air monitoring. This is a budget neutral proposal by setting up a fee structure to pay for the cost of the city having a seat at the table and expertise to review the reports. The expertise can be outsourced and does not require additional staff.
This Industrial Safety Ordinance is challenging the status quo. I believe the public has a right to know they can trust us to put them first in safety, air quality and public health.