Activists arrested during Richmond Chevron refinery fire protest

August 3, 2013 6:33:30 PM PDT
Richmond police have arrested around 175 people so far at a protest outside the Chevron refinery Saturday, and expect the number to climb to more than 200, an official said today.

Those being arrested have chosen to stay after police issued orders to be dispersed, Sgt. T. Ellis said.

The protest, which marks the first anniversary of an Aug. 6th refinery fire, has been peaceful and non-violent, Ellis said.

It comes one day after Richmond city leaders and their attorneys filed litigation against Chevron in connection with the fire.

The lawsuit alleges the explosion and blaze at the Richmond refinery on Aug. 6, 2012, resulted from "years of neglect, lax oversight and corporate indifference to necessary safety inspection and repairs."

The fire occurred after a leak in a corroded pipe in the refinery's crude oil unit created a large cloud of hydrocarbon vapor that ignited in a fireball at about 6:30 p.m. that day.

The fire burned for several hours before being controlled and sent a huge plume of toxic black smoke over the area. More than 15,000 people were treated at hospitals for respiratory problems and other illnesses.

The lawsuit, authorized by the City Council last week after months of failed negotiations with Chevron, seeks financial compensation for economic damage to the city, including the costs of emergency response, firefighting, environmental cleanup, alleviating harm to public health, and loss of value in city property.