Environment

UPDATE: PG&E picking up pace of pole washing to address power outage problem

PG&E told Richmond City Council Tuesday that dirty insulators on poles have triggered the frequent power outages residents are experiencing and that the company will wash poles “on a more regular basis.” PG&E is washing 100 to 160 poles a day in Richmond and other parts of Contra Costa County and plans to increase that to 1,000 poles per week. With about 6,000 poles to address, PG&E expects to finish the work by Nov. 15, PG&E’s Darin Cline said.  Over…

Want a lush garden that needs little watering? East Bay utility has a rebate for that.

Even in a drought, you don’t have to resign yourself to a brown lawn or a drab garden. A Bay Area utility recently started a “super rebate” program to encourage people to convert their wilted shrubbery into a lush garden of not-too-thirsty native plants.  The East Bay Municipal Utility District, which provides water and wastewater service to many communities in the East Bay, is offering customers $1.50 per square foot of converted turf lawn. The rebate comes as a credit…

Why is Richmond plagued by power outages — 269 in a month?

Madalyn Law knows how to keep the food in the refrigerator from going bad when the power goes out. She learned the hard way.  Living in Richmond’s Park Plaza neighborhood, Law has experienced four power outages over the past four weeks. To keep her food from spoiling, she “did it old school” by not opening the refrigerator door too often. “I have never experienced outages like this, and I’ve been here for 42 years,” Law said. “The scary part is,…

West Contra Costa beaches benefit from Coastal Cleanup Day efforts

On Contra Costa County beaches and up and down the California coast on Saturday, volunteers armed with trash bags and garden gloves picked up cups, bottles, paper and all sorts of debris discarded on beaches. At Bayfront Park in Pinole, 14-year-old Josiah Ireton joined other Boy Scouts from Pinole and Hercules, laboriously hauling tires and filling bags with litter. “We found a lot of plastic straws, discarded food containers … and we found a lot of glass, especially on the…

Keller Beach is popular with swimmers despite history of poor water quality

The sound of waves sliding across the sand, children laughing, and people talking permeated Richmond’s Keller Beach on a warm Saturday afternoon in late August. Paddle boarders and swimmers dotted the ocean, with children splashing closer to shore. Seaweed dried on the beach, its scent mingling with that of food simmering on a grill. The water was warm and calm, said Christina Kossa, who lives in Berkeley and has been swimming in the bay for about eight years. It was…

Smoky Chevron flare alarms residents, spews sulfur dioxide into air

A day after the Richmond Chevron refinery belched a plume of heavy smoke that wafted across the Richmond skyline, the company said the issue prompted a low-level community warning and was “quickly corrected.” Richmond interim fire Chief Michael Smith told the San Francisco Chronicle that the billowing smoke captured in photos on social media Tuesday afternoon was caused by a low-level flaring incident. The level is the company’s lowest and was issued “to keep residents informed,” Tyler Kruzich, a Chevron…

What caused Chevron pipeline to leak diesel into bay?

It could take as long as six months before people in Richmond know what caused a Chevron pipeline to leak hundreds of gallons of a diesel product into San Francisco Bay in February.  An independent firm will investigate what caused a quarter-inch hole to open in the line, allowing 500 to 750 gallons of a diesel-water mixture to pollute the bay, Randy Sawyer, deputy director of Contra Costa County Health Services, told Richmond City Council. He said the work will…