Tag Archives: Contra Costa County CA

Coronavirus: New Death At Orinda Nursing Home; Outbreak Worsens At Pleasant Hill Senior Center

[BenIndy Editor: I can find no reports of coronavirus infections in Solano County senior facilities.  Hope and pray for our elders in this pandemic!  – R.S.]

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KPIX5 CBS SF Bay Area, April 10, 2020

PLEASANT HILL (CBS SF) — Contra Costa health officials reported Friday another resident death amid a growing outbreak of coronavirus at two senior care facilities.

The county reported 21 people have been infected at Carlton Senior Living at 175 Cleaveland Road in downtown Pleasant Hill. Eight of those confirmed positive are residents and 13 are staff members, according to Contra Costa Health Services.

In addition, CCHS said a second person has died at Orinda Care Center, where earlier this week 50 people had tested positive for COVID-19.

CCHS said it was working closely with management of the senior living facilities to contain the spread of the virus.  The county said both CCHS and John Muir Health have provided infection control guidance as well as PPE supplies for residents and staff, and was working to offer COVID-19 testing.

As of Friday morning, county health officials reported 511 total cases of coronavirus in Contra Costa, including people who have recovered. There have been nine deaths in the county because of the illness.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday the state has identified seven sites with hundreds beds to take care of senior care residents who are forced from their current facilities, including the USNS Mercy hospital ship.

There are 1,224 major senior care facilities statewide; of those, 191 were being monitored by state health officials where there have been 1,266 individuals and staff members who have contracted the virus, Newsom said.

There are also 7,464 smaller care facilities statewide, Newsom said, where 94 are being monitored with outbreaks that have 370 residents and staffers ill with the coronavirus.

“You may consider those numbers and say that sounds relatively modest,” said Newsom of the numbers of infections in senior care facilities. “That doesn’t show the entire picture. There have been some appropriate headlines about certain areas of the state of  California and specific facilities that have become hot spots, where we have seen a disproportionate number of people contracting the disease and number of people tragically passing away. What we have done is … put in new guidelines that have been backed up by staff, what I would refer to as SWAT Teams, of infectious disease control professionals, working with the CDC and others, to saturate those areas of concern and focus.”

Newsom added the additional staff focusing on senior centers was working to “quickly identify those individuals, isolate, quarantine, and ultimately trace and track the pattern of the infection.”

“We are making calls in an unprecedented way,” said Newsom. “It’s not an exaggeration, 1,500 field offices every single day, calling every single nursing facility in the state.”

The governor also said “SWAT teams” of infectious disease specialists will be dispatched to the most serious outbreaks and deals had been made to temporary staffing agencies to fill in when a facilities caregivers are sidelined by positive coronavirus results.

Contra Costa County reporting coronavirus cases by city – Solano County has yet to do so

By Roger Straw, April 5 2020
[UPDATE: On Monday April 6, Solano County released new information showing cases by cities, but detailing only the three largest cities in Solano.  Smaller cities like Benicia are still in the dark.  See COVID-19 in Solano County – 15 new cases over the weekend, curve continues up, partial city listings, fewer tests.  – R.S.]

On Sunday, April 5, the Antioch Herald published information clearly showing a city-by-city listing of positive COVID-19 cases in Contra Costa County.

Contra Costa Health Services: Data reported to CCHS as of 4/5/2020 at 11:30 a.m. Data is manually compiled from CalREDIE and hospitalization data is collected via phone survey. All data points could be a snapshot at different times. We are continually working on improving the data collection.

This information comes from the Contra Costa Health Department’s coronavirus Dashboard – see coronavirus.cchealth.org/dashboard.  The listing also notes City population and Cases per 100,000.  (Note that the Dashboard was slow to barely functional at the time of this writing.  I’m guessing this is due to high traffic volume.)


Solano County officials have been approached on multiple occasions with requests for more detailed information as to the whereabouts of cases in our county.  On advice of County Council Bernadette Curry, the Solano Health Department has refused to release a city-based listing.  Curry claims that releasing city specific data would violate the County’s obligations under HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that was passed by Congress in 1996.

Note that Contra Costa is disclosing the number of cases in several cities smaller than Benicia.

On March 27, we reported that Orange County CA is also releasing a city-based listing of cases.

We hope the Solano County Counsel will reconsider and permit the Health Department to be more transparent.  Residents and businesses deserve to know more about the facts and trends in our home towns.

Enviros Sue California State Lands Commission Over Tesoro Terminal Lease

Repost from Law360

Enviros Sue Calif. Land Agency Over Tesoro Terminal Lease

By Juan Carlos Rodriguez, April 20, 2015, 5:59 PM ET

New York — Two environmental groups on Friday sued the California State Lands Commission for allegedly renewing Tesoro Refining and Marketing Co.’s lease at an oil receiving facility near San Francisco bay without adequately considering the business’ impacts on the surrounding area.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Communities for A Better Environment alleged the CSLC violated the California Environmental Quality Act in March when it renewed the 30-year lease for Tesoro’s Avon Marine Terminal. The CSLC’s Final Environmental Impact Report was faulty for a variety of reasons, including that it doesn’t specify what kind of oil will be imported to the terminal, the petition for a writ of mandate said.

It said the Avon Terminal imports crude oil feedstocks to Tesoro’s nearby Golden Eagle Refinery and exports refined petroleum products, like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

“The EIR for the Avon Terminal fails as an informational document as it is conspicuously silent about the types of crude oil feedstocks that will be handled at the terminal and the additional risks that may be created by Tesoro’s plans to process lower quality and heavy crudes at the Golden Eagle Refinery,” the petition said.

It said that Tesoro plans to process increasing quantities of lower quality crude oil feedstocks at the Golden Eagle Refinery, including Bakken crude. The environmental groups said transporting and processing Bakken crude creates numerous health and safety risks because it’s highly volatile and is dirtier than most other crude feedstocks, releasing high levels of benzene, volatile organic compounds, and toxic air contaminants when processed.

The Avon Terminal EIR is deficient in other ways as well, according to the groups. They said that in analyzing the environmental effects of renewing the Avon Terminal lease, the EIR considers only the Avon Terminal’s effects and fails to consider the combined effects of Tesoro’s integrated facilities, including those of the refinery and another nearby terminal.

“This artificial isolation of the Avon Terminal improperly masks the full extent of the effects of Tesoro’s integrated refinery operations,” the petition said.

The EIR also underestimates the annual number of ships that will dock at the relicensed Avon Terminal over its thirty-year lease, resulting in an underestimation of the air, water, wildlife, and other impacts of the Avon Terminal’s future operations, according to the petition.

“As a result of these and related deficiencies, the EIR fails to fully inform the public and decision-makers of the project’s significant health, safety, and environmental impacts and fails to analyze and mitigate these impacts as the California Environmental Quality Act requires,” the petition said.

Contra Costa County hosts four of the five major petroleum refineries in northern California, and the fifth is nearby, the petition said, making it the second largest refining center in the western U.S. It said residents in the area suffer from high rates of asthma and many are ill-equipped to deal with these burdens, as more than half the residents are low-income minorities.

“Tesoro’s operations also affect wildlife. The project area provides habitat for state and federally listed species, such as coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead; delta smelt; green sturgeon; black and Ridgway’s rails; salt marsh harvest mouse; and three endangered plant species,” the petition said.

The environmental groups are asking the CSLC to void the EIR for the Avon Terminal lease approval; set aside and withdraw approvals of the project; and refrain from granting any further approvals for the Avon Terminal lease approval until the commission complies fully with the requirements of CEQA.

The CSLC declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday.

The plaintiffs are represented by Irene V. Gutierrez and Trent W. Orr of Earthjustice and Roger Lin.

Counsel information for the CSLC was not available Monday.

The case is Center for Biological Diversity et al. v. California State Lands Commission, number 15-0569 in the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of Contra Costa.

–Editing by Emily Kokoll.

Pittsburg CA: WesPac oil storage project no longer includes Bakken crude trains

Repost from the San Jose Mercury News
[Editor: For original project documents and the recent announcement, see the City of Pittsburg’s WesPac Pittsburg Energy Infrastructure Project.  – RS]

Pittsburg: WesPac oil storage project no longer includes Bakken crude trains

By Sam Richards, 04/01/2015 11:40:04 AM PDT

PITTSBURG — Amid the growing national debate over the safety of transporting crude oil by trains, an energy firm has dropped the rail component from a controversial proposal to transform an old PG&E tank farm into a regional oil storage facility here.

WesPac Midstream LLC’s proposed Pittsburg Terminal Project, which had been attacked by local activists as posing a serious safety threat, is back on the table after a year of dormancy.

But the elimination of the crude-by-rail element doesn’t mean critics are satisfied that a revived oil storage and shipping operation would be safe for the community. The dormant tanks are less than a half-mile from hundreds of houses and apartments on West 10th Street and in the downtown area between Eighth Street and the waterfront.

“There are still environmental issues … having the stored oil in those tanks so close to homes, ground pollution issues, vapors from the big tanks,” said Frank Gordon of Pittsburg, a vocal opponent of the project in the past.

The City Council on Monday is expected to approve another review of the proposed oil storage facility’s environmental impact reports — this time excluding the prospect of rail deliveries.

The WesPac plan, as presented in October 2013, included facilities just north of Parkside Avenue — south of the tank farm — to handle as many as five 104-car oil trainloads a week.

Art Diefenbach, WesPac’s Pittsburg project manager then and now, said this week that the “regulatory environment” surrounding rail shipments of crude oil — in particular, the more volatile Bakken crude from an area covering parts of North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan in Canada — isn’t stable enough to plan a major project around.

“We just can’t proceed with that uncertainty floating out there,” said Diefenbach, also noting that falling crude prices help make shipping oil by rail a less attractive alternative, at least in the short term.

He said protests against the crude oil trains — in Pittsburg, the East Bay and the nation — were a factor in the plan change, too. Such decisions, he said, “are always a combination of factors.”

Oil trains, he said, are out of the picture for the foreseeable future.

Several communities in the East Bay have expressed alarm in recent months about the transport of crude by rail through the region in the wake of several high-profile derailments and accidents in North America in recent years, including one in Quebec in 2013 that killed 47 people and destroyed part of a town. At a meeting in Crockett last week, residents raised concerns about plans to ship oil by rail through Contra Costa County and other parts of the Bay Area to a refinery in Central California.

Without trains, all oil arriving at the WesPac facility would be via either ship or a pipeline from the southern reaches of the Central Valley.

Pittsburg Mayor Pete Longmire said removing the trains from the WesPac equation should result in a safer project for the community. “And it’s probably less controversial than before,” he said.

Although the council will decide Monday night on only an amendment to one of the project’s environmental studies, Longmire expects a large crowd to turn out to discuss what many still likely see as a polluting facility that could present a health danger to the hundreds of people who live near the old tanks.

WesPac Energy, as the company was called then, first applied in March 2011 for needed permits to renovate and restart the former PG&E oil storage and transfer facilities off West 10th Street on the city’s northwestern edge. The $200 million project calls for an average of 242,000 barrels of crude or partially refined crude oil to be unloaded daily from ships on the nearby Sacramento River, and from pipelines, and stored in 16 tanks on 125 acres.

The oil would then be moved to Contra Costa County refineries, and the Valero refinery in Benicia, via pipeline for processing.

The Pittsburg Defense Council, a group of opponents to the WesPac project in general, had decried the prospect of Bakken crude oil coming into town for unloading. Some already has rolled through Pittsburg on BNSF rails, destined for a Kinder-Morgan facility in Richmond.

Diefenbach said that, assuming various approvals come at a typical pace, construction could begin in early 2016, and likely would take from 18 to 24 months.

Longmire said he doesn’t have strong feelings about WesPac either way at this point but insists that the project — with its jobs and its boost to the local economy — must be safe. Gordon said he is still leaning against it. They agree, though, the formal permitting process must be allowed to play out.

Said Gordon, “We’ll have to see what they do with the new” environmental impact report.

If you go…

The Pittsburg City Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall council chamber, 65 Civic Ave. in Pittsburg. The public is welcome.