Valero and City staff report on air monitor progress required by ISO denial
You may want to attend the Benicia City Council meeting this Tuesday evening, November 20, or watch it on Benicia TV.
Last June, City Council chose NOT to review a draft Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO) prepared by a local citizen activist Working Group. However, the presentation and discussion at Council that night highlighted a unanimous concern that Benicia needs better air quality monitors and better communication between Valero refinery and the City.
At the end of the Council’s discussion last June, Council members Campbell and Schwartzman demanded that Valero install certain air monitors and undertake improved communications with the City in six months, OR ELSE. Or else, that is, they would vote in favor of an ISO to better protect the interests of the City.
Well, the six months has passed, and this Tuesday City Council will hear reports and discuss progress made – or not made. As always, public comments, written or spoken, are welcome. (See “Where to write…”)
City Council will meet at 7 pm on Tuesday November 20 in chambers at City Hall, 250 East L Street. The meeting will be broadcast live on your tv at home on Comcast channel 27 or AT&T U-Verse channel 99 or via live streaming on your computer at Benicia TV, https://www.ci.benicia.ca.us/btv.
ISO Working Group: Benicia Deserves a Local Industrial Safety Ordinance (Part 3)
By Benicia ISO Working Group, June 19, 2018
In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we examined the health effects and costs of particulates and other air pollutants and pointed out the inadequacies of Valero’ proposed air monitoring plan, now under review at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). Today we will look at other statewide developments on air quality, and the continuing need for a LOCAL Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO).
Valero and others have pointed out that community air monitoring programs are part of the recently adopted California Air Resources Board (CARB) statewide mandate to determine which communities are most impacted by poor ambient air quality. The expectation is that local air districts will install community monitors on a prioritized basis, and that Benicia might qualify and benefit. This is a reference to AB 617, and we understand that Benicia could self-nominate to seek funds through AB 617. However, City staff has declined to spend time on an application, and even if it did, would likely not benefit much. Only $5 million is available statewide for communities who qualify, with a priority on disadvantaged communities.
At this point in time, the ISO Working Group expects a draft Benicia ISO to incorporate a provision that requires a communitywide air monitoring program, one which integrates existing programs and data collection to the extent relevant and practical. Any additional air monitoring that becomes available to Benicia through AB 617, CARB, the BAAQMD or other outside source can be integrated into the Benicia ISO’s overall plan for monitoring, oversight and correction.
Benicia deserves better! Benicia deserves a communitywide monitoring program, not fence line only. Benicia deserves a program that provides data and meaningful analysis and information to the general public on a 24/7, real-time basis. Valero’s current proposal will not do this, and other regional and state monitoring programs on the horizon that may include Benicia have unclear implementation dates and are severely underfunded. In the meantime, what’s in Benicia’s air remains unclear.
A Benicia ISO will give City staff, Council members and representatives of the schools and residents a seat at the table when decisions are made concerning air monitoring and more. A Benicia ISO will strengthen the City’s response during emergencies and “rare conditions,” and provide detailed reporting to City staff, Council members and the public during and after such events. A Benicia ISO would improve cooperation and communication between industry and the City, County, local fire departments and regional and statewide oversight agencies. A Benicia ISO would – after years of waiting – bring community-wide air monitors to Benicia. A Benicia ISO would bring a strong measure of local control and locally nimble response when it comes to our own health and safety.
Finally – and importantly – an ISO would be budget neutral for the City, supported from fees through implementation and enforcement of the ISO. Benicia’s ISO will engage the experts we need to participate as equals at the table reviewing documents and regulations on behalf of the City and community.
Please contact the Mayor, City Council members, and Benicia’s City Manager to let them know you support a community industrial safety ordinance for Benicia.
The Benicia ISO Working Group is an ad hoc citizen’s group of about a dozen Benicia residents. Since October 2017, the Working Group has been studying, writing, meeting with officials and advocating that Benicia join all other Bay Area refinery towns in passing a local community industrial safety ordinance. More information: beniciaindependent.com/iso.