KPFK Radio LA on Chevron Refinery fire.
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investigators looking into last week’s Richmond Refinery fire in
Northern California concluded over the weekend that more than a dozen of
the plant’s workers could have been killed as they worked on fixing a
leaking pipe. The workers were apparently briefly engulfed in a highly
flammable gas-oil cloud, leading the investigators to call it “among the
most serious U.S. refinery incidents in recent years.”
The multinational oil giant Chevron, which runs the hundred year old
Richmond refinery, announced on Friday that it would open a new office
in the area to handle the thousand plus fire-related claims from local
residents. Many of the claims involve residents who suffered health care
costs, property damage, or lost earnings as a result of the fire.
Chevron has also opened a hotline for affected residents. The oil giant
made the announcement after an angry crowd of hundreds of local
residents stormed their City Hall earlier in the week demanding that
both Chevron and city officials do more to ensure the safety of their
community from future accidents.
The explosions that brought down part of the Richmond refinery
released large quantities of toxic substances like sulfur dioxide and
nitrogen oxide into neighboring communities. As a result, hundreds of
residents sought medical treatment for a range of ailments from eye
irritations to respiratory problems. The fire is the most recent in a
string of several fires over the past decades, the latest having
occurred in 2007 and which also spread noxious fumes and sent hundreds
of residents to seek medical assistance.
In the week since the fire, many have predicted that gas prices in
California will be affected. In fact, the average price per gallon
jumped from $3.86 on Tuesday to $3.94 on Thursday according to
GasBuddy.com. Experts expect gas prices to push beyond the four-dollar
mark in the coming days as a result of reduced oil production tied to
the damages from the fire.
GUEST: Antonia Juhasz, author of “The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s
Most Powerful Industry — and What We Must Do to Stop It.” She is the
editor and lead author of three Alternative Annual Reports for Chevron,
“The True Cost of Chevron.” http://www.TyrannyofOil.org. She is former
director of the Chevron Program at Global Exchange.