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Chevron's Local Ties Are Strained After Fire

Even as it pours cash into Richmond, the oil company is encountering push back in city hall as it seeks to rebuild a damaged crude unit.

Last year, Chevron spent $5 million on social programs in Richmond. This year, the company is launching an initiative that will spend $15.5 million over five years on economic development and education in the city. To those sums can be added the $1.2 million the company spent trying to influence city politics during the 2012 election. That’s chump change for one of the world’s most profitable companies and real money for one of the Bay Area’s poorest cities.

Chevron has been spending money in Richmond for decades, but after the refinery fire in August that sent thousand to the hospital, the cash is no guarantee of an easy relationship. The resistance Chevron is facing as it seeks to repair its fire-damaged refinery reflects the strained bond between the oil company and Richmond, according to an article in Thursday’s New York Times.

Still, Chevron’s manager of community engagement told the New York Times that over 50 percent of Richmond residents regard the company favorably. What do you think? Is Chevron’s presence in the area a benefit, a blight, or both?

Linda Schneider January 04, 2013 at 04:29 PM
Every single day I came home to mailers and door hangers hung by Chevron depicting my friends and colleagues as crude, incompetent, unreliable, irresponsible individuals in Chevron's efforts to get their own non-green candidates onto city council. It was a daily assault in my personal home space. The lack of regard for the community is evident.
Matthew Kelleher January 04, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Chevron does not belong in the Point Richmond community. With increased population over the years; increased environmental awareness and knowledge of the effects of it's products; Chevron needs to move to another location. The costs of the long term health effects of those in the vicinity or within the disbersment by air area; make their "community" contributions chump chang . We as taxpayers will foot that enormous bill. Their activities are a public health risk in this location; the potential for a catastrophic event has not been abated. Their manipulation of the political process in Richmond is shameful and calculated. Tom Butt gets hot about a lot of issues; where is he and other "responsible" elected officials on this ? Chevron should realize this is not helpful to it's business model; and move on (after funding the toxic cleanup). Heard too many tall tales from drink loosened tongues of employees at the Hotel Mac that made my hair stand up. Good lawyers need to get into Federal Court and motivate the move asap.
Stephanie Travis January 07, 2013 at 08:05 AM
What is Patch, an internet newspaper or some teenager’s personal blog? If this article is an editorial piece, why was it not marked as such? Chump change? Give us some facts about this serious problem. Additionally, every time Chevron announces a fire thousands of Richmond residents go to the hospital, but few if any are admitted or told to be sure they get follow-up care. Why do they go to the hospital; as one resident told a reporter, because he needed a doctor to sign a paper so he “could get my $500 check”. Because so many Richmond residents treat these fires as a gravy train the rest of the public shrugs its shoulders when told, once again, that thousands went to the hospital as a result of a Chevron fire. These largely unnecessary visits put a tremendous burden on Richmond’s limited medical facilities and make it more difficult for people in real need to get care. Give us some facts; what is the rate of asthma, lung disease and other illnesses in Richmond, in comparison to cities without a Chevron plant? Do the majority of Richmond residents want the plant to close and lose jobs and taxes the plant generates, or do they want the plant to stay but be clean, so they have healthy air to breath; is the latter even possible. If you are going to report this story, do it right.

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