RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) --The level of interest and concern about Chevron's plans to upgrade its refinery in Richmond was very clear Tuesday night. A huge crowd turned out to lobby for and against the modernization project.
More than 1,000 people packed into Richmond's Memorial Auditorium for a last chance to comment about Chevron's $1 billion plan to modernize its aging refinery. Many people brought signs to emphasize their message.
Richmond Resident Mike Parker said, "Our position is that modernization of the refinery must make the refinery operations themselves cleaner not dirtier."
Chevron has listened and is now reversing its previous position by agreeing to a lower cap on greenhouse emissions and limiting the amount of dirtier, high sulphur oil through the upgrade.
Chevron spokesperson Nicole Barber, "The modernization project includes a safety plan that is more stringent than existing regulations, so there will be more monitoring, more reporting, more transparency about our operations."
One woman said, "I am a proud Chevron Richmond employee for the last 14 years."
Many speakers work at the refinery, but live in Richmond too. They support the plan which will bring more than 1,000 new jobs.
Another speaker said, "We can try to capture this economic opportunity, which will lessen the disparity of our community."
However, environmental activist want to see the plant do more, like replacing aging oil pipes.
Vivian Huang from the Asian Pacific Environmental Network said, "How do we make sure to replace all the old pipes that are processing oil at very high temperatures that could potentially corrode. We don't want to see another explosion like what happened in August of 2012."
That accident sent shockwaves to the community. Now Chevron is committed to giving back and agreeing to increase its community investments into local non-profits.
A final vote on the plan happens July 29.