Climate activists to gather for 10 year anniversary of Richmond refinery fire

RICHMOND – Bay Area activists plan to gather Saturday in Richmond for a march and actions commemorating the 10-year anniversary of an explosion and fire that tore through the Chevron Richmond refinery.

Activists will be led by Richmond Our Power Coalition, made up of local community organizations that fight for climate justice. Organizers will recall smoke from the fire that sent thousands to local hospitals and clinics on Aug. 6, 2012.

Investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board reported that Chevron had ignored warnings about corrosion in the pipe that eventually caused the fire. The goal of Saturday’s march is to advocate for the eventual phaseout of oil refineries statewide.

“We need Governor Newsom and the California Air Resources Board to say no to Big Oil’s carbon capture scams and dirty hydrogen projects,” the Richmond Our Power Coalition said in a news release about Saturday’s actions. “We need a plan for a full, coordinated phaseout of oil refineries by 2045, so that we can put in place a strong safety net for fossil fuel workers, invest in developing healthy local economies with good family supporting jobs, and clean up toxic sites.”

Events will begin at 9:30 a.m. with protesters gathering at the Richmond BART station and marching to the Chevron refinery. At 11 a.m., the Bay Area Climate Kayaktivists, a group who protests from kayaks, will make their inaugural launch at Keller Beach, the location of a February 2021 oil spill related to the Chevron refinery, among other planned actions.

Organizers expect hundreds to be in attendance Saturday, but this is not the first time that Richmond residents have protested the refinery. There was a large demonstration at Chevron in 2013, one year after the explosion. 

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