Chevron Hosts Fiery Town Hall Meeting
Residents have every right to be furious, and Chevron officials will be the first to admit it; the company has apologized profusely for the three-alarm refinery fire that could be seen from San Francisco's Coit Tower. More than 160,000 residents were ordered to stay indoors and duct tape their windows as firefighters worked for many, many hours to put out the blaze.
Black soot still covers parts of the community, and residents are still complaining of eye irritation and respiratory problems -- and Chevron is willing to pay for it all.
Knowing this didn't placate the 500-plus people last night, who would still like to know "what are they breathing?" Here's a sampling of some angry residents' comments/questions that made us think:
- "If Chevron leaves, we all die, but if Chevron stays, we all die, too."
- "How long can I hold my breath?"
- "They say they're sorry? They're the sorriest people around."
And then there were some residents who seemed a little more forgiving:
- "Give them a chance -- they've given our community so many resources. Without Chevron in Richmond, we would be just like Vallejo -- broke."
- "Chevron is not God. I'm not mad about this."
Chevron officials say the fire started at the refinery's 4 Crude Unit at 6:15 pm on Monday, two hours after a gas leak started as a small drip. When workers started removing insulation around the leaky pipe, a vapor of a flammable substance similar to diesel was released into the air.
Chevron has set up a claims process through Crawford and Company, and representatives for the company say they "intend to compensate our neighbors for medical and property expenses incurred as a result of the incident. We also will see to it that communities be reimbursed for the costs they face for emergency personnel who responded to last night's incident."
To file a claim, call (866) 260-7881.
By the way, for those of you who were driving across the Bay Bridge at the time of the fire, you will be getting your toll bill in the mail soon -- and no, Chevron won't be paying for that.