The city of Richmond, California, sued Chevron on Friday for ‘willful and conscious disregard for public safety’ in regards to a massive refinery fire on 6th August 2012.
Richmond city officials filed the lawsuit in Contra Costa Superior Court, following months of unfruitful negotiations between city officials and company executives.
‘We did have talks.’ Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said at a City Hall news conference. ‘We couldn’t come up with an agreement. That is why we have taken this next step.’
At the same news conference, Frank Pitre, a partner with law firm Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy, outlined that the law suit seeks compensation for four areas of damages.
The city incurred economic losses providing emergency response to the fire and monitoring air quality after the event, suffered environmental harm, and has been hampered by the stigma from decades of releases and accidents. Chevron’s negligence additionally interferes with residents’ rights to ‘comfort and enjoyment’ of their community.
The fire, which was started by a pipeline rupture, sent a plume of smoke into the air that lingered above Richmond and neighbouring cities for days. More than 15 000 people went to hospital with respiratory complaints during this period.
‘This is a company that has sacrificed safety to profits’, Pitre said.
The US Chemical Safety Board’s investigation found that the pipe was recommended for replacement by Chevron inspectors as early as 2012.
The State Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) found that the refinery was guilty of 11 ‘willful’ violations and fined the company US$ 1 million, the highest fine in the agency’s history.
Chevron spokeswoman, Melissa Ritchie, said in a prepared statement that ‘the city’s meritless lawsuit is a waste of its own resources and yet another example of its failed leadership.’
Ritchie added that Chevron will ‘vigorously’ defend itself against the lawsuit, but will ‘remain dedicated to those in the Richmond community who truly wish to improve the quality of life of Richmond and West Contra Costa County.’
Edited from various sources by Emma McAleavey.
Read the article online at: https://www.hydrocarbonengineering.com/gas-processing/05082013/richmond_sues_chevron532/