Category Archives: Marilyn Bardet

Valero emissions alerts – personal update with photos from Marilyn Bardet

An email from Marilyn Bardet, Benicia

From: Marilyn Bardet
Subject: About Solano ALERT notice: Valero’s Scrubber releasing toxic particulate matter–pet coke
Date: March 24, 2019 at 8:16:22 AM PDT

Good morning all,

I just received both a phone call and email from Solano ALERT at 6:59 a.m. regarding the ongoing problem at the refinery that’s resulting in continuous release of PM from the Scrubber, (main stack). I see emails circulating now among Benicians— and so you’ve all probably rec’d the advisory by now to “stay indoors, with doors and windows sealed, if you have asthma or other respiratory condition”. The advisory declares that they’ve tested the pet coke emissions and did not find (dangerous levels) of heavy metals. (Which is not to say there are no heavy metals being dispersed over the last ten days).

My concern:
This problem has been happening since at least March 13th, when I first saw the plume, having been alerted by a friend who had called to report its smokey color.  That day, following her phone call, I drove along  Park Road and Industrial Way (east of the refinery’s processing block) to see it for myself and take pictures.

The release of dark smoke from the Scrubber signals an “up stream” on-going problem with the coker unit. My question: is the coker still operating or has it been shut down? If it’s not operating, when was the unit shut down?

Yesterday, I was driving over the Benicia Bridge toward town and saw the plume and again noticed the smokey color, so went directly to Industrial Way to take pictures. I made a 1 minute video, holding my camera outside my car window to get it. This meant that I could see and smell the smoke— a very dirty, nasty smell. Anyone working in the Industrial Park yesterday downwind of the Scrubber  would have been greatly exposed.  I could smell the gases inside my car when I rolled up the window.

You’ll notice that in the still shots from yesterday, the plume rises, drifts and falls. . . the wind was light, the molecules heavy!

I can’t send the video via email, because the file is too large, but Constance will be able to circulate it.

I want to know about the test for heavy metals and which ones they did find and in what concentrations. Was there any nickel found? Nickel is a known carcinogen when inhaled.

All it would take would be a shift in the wind to bring the PM into our neighborhoods.

— Marilyn

The following pictures I took on March 13th,  between 11:33 a.m. and 11:35 a.m (click to enlarge):

The following pictures I took on March 23, at 2:21 pm
(click to enlarge):

KPIX – Valero’s Oil-By-Rail Report Minimizes Risk, Alarms Benicia Residents

Repost from CBS Bay Area 5KPIX KCBS AM/FM
[Editor: With apologies for the commercial ad … KPIX reporter Joe Vazquez interviews Marilyn Bardet of Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community outside Benicia City Hall.  – RS]

Valero’s Oil-By-Rail Report Minimizes Risk, Alarms Benicia Residents

June 18, 2014 8:20 AM

BENICIA (KPIX 5) – A new report puts into writing a plan for Valero to bring two trains per day of crude oil in and out of its Benicia refinery.

Marilyn Bardet of the group Benicians For a Safe and Healthy Community received the draft environmental impact report Tuesday afternoon.

“What kind of cost are we being asked to accept in terms of risk?” she said. “When we’re bringing in trains that contain this much oil at any one time being brought into cities and through very sensitive ecologies.”

Benicia residents are nervous about the new rail-car plan, citing news reporting about the six major incidents this past year across North America where trains crashed, spilling millions of gallons of crude oil.

One crash in Canada resulted in explosions killing 47 people and destroying many downtown buildings.

But today’s report declares the risk of an accident in the Bay Area would be extremely low — so rare that a spill of a 100 gallons of crude oil or more between Roseville and Benicia would likely happen once every 111 years.

“It only takes one accident and it takes one displacement of one rail, or a misaligned wheel on one of those cars,” Bardet said. “This can happen and I don’t think they’re being honest about how you use statistics here.”

The report said this new plan to have the trains transport the oil would have some impact on air pollution but this would be significant less than the current plan of bringing it on by boat.

The Oakland City Council passed a resolution to become first California city to oppose the shipping of fossil fuels by rail. The resolution is largely symbolic since the federal government makes the rules for the railroads.

“Stop Crude by Rail” Benicia Activist Marilyn Bardet Honored With 13th Annual Anthony Grassroots Prize

Repost from The Rose Foundation
[Editor: We are so proud of our colleague and friend, Marilyn Bardet.  This honor is more than well-deserved.  What would Benicia be without her sharp eyes and driving, precision vocabulary on issues of community health and safety.  Don’t miss the photos and videos far below.  – RS]

2014 Anthony Prize Winner – Marilyn Bardet

“Stop Crude by Rail” Benicia Activist Marilyn Bardet Honored With 13th Annual Anthony Grassroots Prize

Oakland, CA, May 6, 2014

Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment today announces Marilyn Bardet of Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community as the winner of the 2014 Anthony Grassroots Prize, an annual Earth Day award recognizing an outstanding example of grassroots environmental stewardship.

Last year, the Valero refinery proposed adding a massive crude oil rail terminal to their facility. The project would bring 100 rail tanker cars through Benicia every day, potentially carrying some of the dirtiest and dangerously explosive crude oils such as tar sands and Bakken crude. Bardet sprang into action, forming a new group, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community, and collaborating with other fenceline communities and national organizations like Natural Resources Defense Council, who nominated her for the Prize, to stop crude by rail in Benicia and the Bay Area.

“It takes a special kind of person to stand up to big oil on behalf of the community,” according to Anthony Prize founder Juliette Anthony. “We salute Marilyn Bardet’s 20 years of advocacy and celebrate her many past achievements. With the threat of hundreds of oil tanker cars headed to Benicia every day loaded with dirty, explosive Bakken crude, we need her now more than ever.”

Bardet embodies the unsung grassroots activist spirit for which the Prize was established, helping lead community efforts to protect Benicia residents from toxics and hazards for the past twenty years. She, along with fellow residents, has taken on David v. Goliath local challenges posed by big corporations including Koch Industries and the Valero Refinery – and won. In 1995, she led a successful local campaign to stop Koch Industries’ proposed petroleum coke storage and shipping terminal at the Port of Benicia and continues to support community efforts to shape a post-carbon Benicia.

Upon learning the news of her award, Bardet was “amazed and honored.” “The Anthony Prize might as well be the Nobel Prize for us small groups working in the trenches,” says Bardet. “Pulling grassroots activists out of the woodwork and showcasing the amazing things they are getting done in their local communities is a noble, important thing Rose Foundation is doing.”

In 1999, Bardet helped found the Good Neighbor Steering Committee (GNSC) in Benicia, a residents’ association formed out of concern about what would happen once the former Exxon refinery was sold to Valero. Since its founding, Marilyn and the GNSC have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the Valero refinery, monitored developments, and encouraged the creation of a Community Advisory Panel after a string of incidents including flaring, spills, and fires.

In 2008, GNSC and Bardet were instrumental in securing “The Valero/Good Neighbor Steering Committee Settlement Agreement,” providing $14 million in environmental benefits to the City of Benicia, including a commitment to air quality monitoring, improvements in energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reductions, and water-saving measures.

Like many grassroots activists, Bardet doesn’t do this work for a paycheck, but for love of her community. For Bardet, “the most profound challenge we all now face is the accelerating rate of climate change. Continuing “business as usual” run by Big Oil – pretending we can go on extracting and burning fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow – is a dead end with horrific long-range consequences.” The Anthony Grassroots Prize, to Bardet, “honors all the good work being done by so many communities helping bring about the necessary transition to a post carbon, resilient, sustainable and just economy and culture. Accepting this award, I receive it for many.”

Bardet has designated the $1,000 prize money be awarded to Benicia Community Gardens, a grassroots non-profit of which she is the Board Chair. Benicia Community Gardens has established two community gardens, a local CSA program, and the first Benicia community orchard.

For more information about Marilyn Bardet and the campaign to Stop Crude By Rail, contact: Marilyn Bardet, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community, (707) 745-9094 or (707) 816-9777,

ABOUT the Anthony Grassroots Prize
The Anthony Grassroots Prize was endowed by Juliette Anthony, a lifelong environmental activist who has received wide recognition for her work in protecting the Santa Monica Mountains, banning the toxic gasoline additive MTBE, promoting solar power and publicizing the negative environmental impacts of ethanol.

ABOUT Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment
Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment supports community-based advocacy to protect the environment and public health through grant-making and direct service programs. Rose Foundation’s focus includes grassroots activism, watershed protection, environmental justice and consumer rights. Rose also administers New Voices Are Rising, a youth leadership development and environmental justice advocacy training program.

For more information about the Anthony Grassroots Prize & Rose Foundation, contact: Tim Little, Executive Director, Rose Foundation, (510) 658-0702 ext. 301,

Marion Gee, Communications Coordinator, Rose Foundation, (949) 378-5253,


Marilyn Bardet Biography

A California native, born and raised in San Mateo, I have been an activist for social justice and against war since high school. Graduated from UC Berkeley in 1970, BA in the humanities; in 1985, studied fine art and graduated with BA and Masters in Painting from Boston University School of Fine Arts, where I taught drawing and design. Actively opposed Vietnam War and all subsequent US-instigated “resource wars,”including “Star Wars.” Volunteered for Defense and Disarmament Institute in Boston in the 80’s; in the 90‘s, served as boardmember of the Mt. Diablo Peace Center, Walnut Creek; in 1995, helped lead successful fight against Koch Industries’ proposal for a petcoke storage and shipping terminal at the Port of Benicia intended to serve all 5 Bay Area refineries; worked on several Cal-EPA-led toxic cleanup projects in Benicia, including military site cleanup of formerly used defense site where live ordnance was discovered – a site intended for residential development by Ford Motor; in 2005, helped successful fight against Bechtel’s and Shell Oil’s proposal for a Liquified Natural Gas terminal and power plant at Mare Island, Vallejo; in 2000, when Valero bought the Exxon refinery in Benicia, helped found the refinery watchdog group, the Good Neighbor Steering Committee; since 2005, have served as board chair of Benicia Community Gardens, a grassroots non-profit that has established two community gardens, a local CSA program with Terra Firma Farm, and recently a first Benicia community orchard.



Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community

Good Neighbor Steering Committee

Benicia Community Gardens