Skip to content

Chevron installs new air monitor in North Richmond

on September 27, 2013

Contra Costa County residents will soon have a better understanding of exactly what is in the air they’re breathing. Chevron recently installed a new air-monitoring station at Fire Station 62, in North Richmond, which will provide real-time data about what chemicals are in the air.

The oil company is nearly finished installing six new air monitoring stations – three along the fence line of the refinery and three in residential neighborhoods. Chevron completed the fence line stations in April, and they are currently transmitting data. Workers recently installed the first of the neighborhood stations, in North Richmond, and it will begin sharing data within two weeks.

“It’s being calibrated to ensure that it’s accurate,” says Chevron spokesman Jason Barnett. “We want to make sure that when data is shared with the community that we can rely on the equipment, that it’s been operating for a reasonable period of time, and that the results are sound.”

All of the stations will be run by Argos Scientific Inc., an independent contractor that has experience operating similar air-monitoring systems at other refineries in the region.

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, who serves as a member of the California Air Resources Board, said it’s good that Chevron is sharing more data with the public. But he said the Bay Area Air Quality Management District won’t be able to impose fines and penalties based on the data they transmit, because a third part is installing and operating the monitors.

“The bottom line is, you want monitors that are reviewed by an independent public agency,” Gioia says.

The air district is currently developing a new rule that will require enhanced air quality monitoring around the Bay Area’s five major oil refineries. But Gioia says he is unsure whether Chevron’s new air monitors will meet the new requirements.

Chevron agreed to install the new air monitors in 2010 after Richmond officials withdrew a ballot measure to increase taxes on the refinery’s utility usage. Barnett says the three-year delay was mostly due to logistics. But Gioia suggests that the August 2012 refinery fire, which sent 15,000 Richmond residents to area hospitals, prompted both Chevron and city officials to speed up the process.

The new air monitors are a step in the right direction, says Gioia, but that it isn’t enough to simply publish the data. “When you have monitoring information, you want to make the information meaningful to the public, and not just be data,” he says. “It’s good to have continuous data you can put on the web, but I think what should go along with that is the ability to have an interpretation by a health professional of what that means.”

Data from the fence line monitors is currently being shared on the website Chevron hopes to have the other two stations, which will be located in Point Richmond and Atchison Village, up and running by the end of the year.


  1. Ormond Otvos on September 27, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    The combination of location and typical wind direction on the fence line monitors will not cover major pollution from the idling engines and fueling vapors and spills in the BNSF railroad yard, nor will they cover the air pollution from the heavy trucks on Richmond Parkway and the 580 freeway.

    But then the CARB wouldn’t want realistic measures of the pollution in the poor sections of Richmond, since they might then have to offend the industrial giants.

    • Kennedy Grad on September 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Yes, there is a lot more than needs to be done, regarding monitoring of air quality.

    • Tony Suggs on September 30, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      So, there are only air monitors in “rich” areas of Richmond?

Richmond Confidential welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Richmond Confidential assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Card image cap
Richmond Confidential

Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

Please send news tips to

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top