Chevron Fire August 6, 2012 Photo Credit: Noah Chandler

Last night, in our own backyard, Chevron’s refinery in Richmond, CA had an explosion and fire. Though damage reports are still coming in, luckily no refinery workers or local residents were killed.

We’ve gathered some photos of the Chevron explosion on our Facebook page.

Chevron Fire August 6, 2012 Photo Credit: Noah Chandler

During our weekly staff meeting this morning, Global Exchange staff and interns shared and discussed what happened. Some staff and interns live in close proximity to the refinery. Kara from our Fair Trade Store in San Francisco witnessed the actual explosion and resulting fire. Many of us saw plumes of black smoke enveloping the east bay sky. Zarah thought a bomb had gone off. Drea expressed concern about breathing in the toxic air, even today.

Hearing the emergency broadcast system announcement on the radio and learning it was not a test enlightened folks to the gravity of the situation. It was not safe to be outside in certain areas.

SF Gate reported that thousands of East Bay residents were ordered to stay in their homes with the windows and doors closed following the explosion.

The Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) is documenting community stories to build better protocols in the future, because as they assert:

The multi-lingual warning systems that APEN and our allies fought for and won, failed. Many residents reported not being properly notified and are now experienc(ing) dizziness, headaches and other symptoms of exposure to toxins. We want to document community experiences so we can assure that better systems can be in put into place in the future. 

Global Exchange is part of the True Cost of Chevron Network, and staffers here are well aware of Chevron’s ongoing atrocities around the world. But when it wafts into the air we breathe, it really hits home, as it has for so many other communities affected by Chevron over the years.

Not surprisingly, Global Exchange just recently named Chevron in our 2012 Most Wanted Human Rights Violators List because “The petrochemical company Chevron is guilty of some of the worst environmental and human rights abuses in the world.

So what happens now?

Tonight Chevron’s PR representatives will be holding an informational hearing about the explosion. And others are mobilizing to rally and protest. APEN explains:

In the first SIX months of this year, Chevron made $13.7 BILLION in profits. Chevron has consistently chosen short-term profit over protection of residents. For decades, Richmond residents have advocated for Chevron to replace its old equipment as soon as possible. Chevron refused to simply update its unsafe equipment and instead attempted to deceive the community and EXPAND its facility in Richmond. The project was really about building the infrastructure to refine heavier and dirtier grades of crude oil.

We think that Chevron will trot out the “refinery safety” Trojan horse once again. You, me, we can not allow them to succeed. We will always oppose any project that adds more pollution and puts our community at risk – will you join us? Chevron is holding a community meeting tonight at 6 PM and APEN will be there rallying before the meeting. Our members and allies will speak at the meeting to tell Chevron what their pursuit of profits has cost our community. Join us in holding Chevron accountable for the unacceptable health risks they expose the Richmond community to.


 Public town hall meeting/Q & A about the Chevron refinery explosion and fire: Tonight, August 7th at 6 pm in the Richmond Memorial Auditorium (403 Civic Center Plaza in the city of Richmond) – people are encouraged to attend.  Please bring signs in support of community health and people over profit! Community partners joining to protest and rally this evening include APEN, along with Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), and others. They’ll be in front of the Richmond Memorial Auditorium 403 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond at 5:30 pm TONIGHT. Click here for details.  

You can also find info about tonight on this Chevwrong meeting Facebook event page.

Spread the word!  To spread the word about the meeting and rally tonight, tweet this!