RICHMOND (CBS SF) — An audio recording of the initial 9-1-1 call from the Chevron refinery to Richmond authorities reporting Monday night’s fire suggests that the emergency dispatcher may have been confused about how to respond to the incident.
On the audiotape, first obtained by the San Jose Mercury News, a female police dispatcher can be heard twice saying to a Chevron employee: “I don’t know what that means.”
Richmond Refinery 911 Call:
The first time was in response to the caller telling her the fire was in the refinery’s crude processing unit; the second time was when the caller asked for a Level One fire response.
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Some Richmond residents and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin have been critical of Chevron’s handling of the fire at the plant, but the 9-1-1 call might also raise the question about whether Richmond emergency personnel are effectively trained in how to deal with refinery mishaps.
Bay Area Air Quality Management District officials told the International Business Times that incidents such as Monday’s fire “are common in refineries but require emergency preparedness for the communities around them.”
In all, air quality monitors said there have been five incidents since 1999 at the Richmond refinery resulting in potential toxic releases.
On Chevron’s website, the company said it “maintains regular contact with state and local agencies and works with them to conduct large-scale emergency drills.”
“Frequent drills are also held in conjunction with local fire departments,” the company added. There was no specific mention as to whether any of those regular drills involved dispatchers.
At a news conference late Wednesday afternoon, Chevron spokeswoman Heather Kulp encouraged anyone “who feels they have suffered any damage” to call the company’s claims hot line at (866) 260-7881.
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