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Richmond Council Calls On Chevron To Improve Safety After Refinery Fire

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Smoke rises from the Richmond Chevron refinery fire (CBS)

Smoke rises from the Richmond Chevron refinery fire (CBS)

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RICHMOND (CBS SF) — Richmond’s city council is taking a tougher stance on Chevron.

The council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night laying out specific expectations of the oil giant two months after a massive fire in a crude oil unit at its Richmond refinery spewed toxin-filled smoke into the air and sickened some 15,000 area residents.

Co-authored by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, the resolution allows city staff to “ensure that Chevron uses the highest standards and best technology in the repair of their crude unit.”

The resolution asks that Chevron make safety at the refinery its top priority, “pay its fair share” in taxes to the city and employ as many Richmond residents as possible.

“We brought it forward because we know that our residents don’t want what happened on the sixth of August to happen again,” Beckles said.

“I think we have to be hard on an entity that is about profits, and we have to be about the health of our community first and foremost,” Beckles said.

A Chevron spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on the resolution.

The non-binding resolution is meant to help foster a mutually beneficial and amicable relationship between the city and Chevron, Beckles said.

That historically strained relationship has become even tenser since the Aug. 6 refinery fire that angered community members, thousands of whom sought medical treatment for illnesses related to the blaze. The fire is currently under investigation by a host of government agencies.

On Wednesday afternoon, a group of Occupy activists and community organizations planned a march and rally at the refinery to demand safety improvements there.

Chevron filed a lawsuit against the Contra Costa County property tax appeals board on Monday, which ruled last spring that the company was being under-assessed by millions of dollars.

The lawsuit is the latest in an ongoing legal battle between Chevron and the county over what the company owes in property taxes.

Chevron already received an $18 million tax refund settlement from the county for taxes paid for 2004 through 2006, according to company officials.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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