Environment

Richmond ballot measure calls for special tax on Chevron to counter pollution

Richmond voters will be asked in November to decide whether the city should impose a refinery tax on Chevron as a way to address pollution.  City Council unanimously approved the ballot measure Tuesday, citing concerns about the city’s budget deficit, poor air quality and worsening health conditions. Council member Doria Robinson was absent.  “What we need is that they pay their fair share so we have the means and resources,” council member Claudia Jiménez said before the vote.  The proposed…

Violators ignore fines for years, so how effective is BAAQMD at policing polluters?

Under a historic settlement with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Chevron recently cleared all 678 of the air pollution infractions that had been pending against its Richmond refinery. With the settlement, BAAQMD, the regional agency that enforces air quality standards, cleared part of a major backlog. While the air district has a history of issuing infractions, it also has a pattern of letting most fines go unpaid for years as it works through cases and negotiates with polluters….

AC Transit accelerates toward zero emission goal

Despite setbacks caused by COVID-19, AC Transit expects to meet its 2023 goals to convert 10% of its bus fleet to zero emission vehicles.  The California Air Resources Board enacted a regulation in 2018 that requires all public transit agencies to transition from diesel fuel to 100% zero‑emission bus fleets by the end of 2040. AC Transit set an internal goal of converting 10% of its 630 buses to zero emission technology by the end of this year, said spokesperson…

What’s being done to bring equitable tree coverage to Richmond neighborhoods?

On a bright October morning in Lucas Park, dozens of community members — some with silver hair and some younger — move around in dirt, sweat and chatter. Loosely divided into small groups, the volunteers hold onto pots and branches to lift up small trees — each around 8 feet tall — and carry them to designated locations.  And then they circle around with shovels, and dig. This was an Arbor Day activity for Groundwork Richmond, an environmental and youth…

Smelly gas release from sewage plant prompts complaints and a pollution citation

Monday evening, Richmond residents noticed a sulfuric stink in the air. It lingered for two days and on Thursday, led to a notice of violation for the company that operates the city’s wastewater treatment plant.  Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which issued the notice for a public nuisance violation, had recorded hydrogen sulfide levels Tuesday morning as high as 345.8 parts per billion on the south side of the Point Richmond plant, based on a five-minute average. That is…

Richmond seeks help planning for foot of sea rise that will hit its long shoreline

Looking inward from the tip of Point Pinole, it is hard to imagine that much of the gradually sloping expanse that is Richmond’s 32-mile shoreline could someday be transformed into a bulwark against global sea level rise.  In September, the city issued a request for proposals from contractors to author a strategic document that could guide Richmond’s response to the foot or so of ocean water expected to inundate coastal cities the world over.  In addition to requiring a detailed…

State agency cites Chevron for 4 violations from this week’s flare

A day after flaring at the Chevron refinery belched smoke and gas for nearly 12 hours over Richmond and into Marin County, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District on Tuesday slapped the company with four violations.  The state agency issued three notices of violations for visible emissions, pertaining to a rule that limits the quantity of particulate matter in the atmosphere, and one for causing a public nuisance. BAAQMD lists the violations as “pending.”  BAAQMD cited Chevron dozens of…

Veil of fire and smoke over Richmond from what Chevron says is a flare

The sky over Richmond turned black with billowing smoke around 4 p.m. Monday, with flames shooting skyward from the Chevron refinery in what the company called a flaring event. Chevron said a power outage caused the flare, which at 5 p.m. was still blazing and had not prompted an evacuation. The wind apparently was carrying the smoke away from Contra Costa County and into Marin County, according to a post on Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia’s Facebook page. “County…

No new sewer line means no new construction at Keller Beach

It will be quite some time before any new homes are built in Keller Beach.  Since January 2022, property owners in the small Point Richmond neighborhood have been barred from obtaining building permits, owing to a city moratorium on new connections to the Keller Beach Sanitary Sewer, which stretches for just over a mile along the area’s coastline.  City officials tagged the line in November 2021, according to records, because of “severe internal corrosion” and sand deposits in portions of…