Richmond hosting emergency meeting Tuesday over concerning air quality issues

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Tuesday, December 12, 2023
Richmond hosting emergency meeting over air quality issues
Richmond will hold a special emergency meeting on Tuesday over the state of the city's air quality.

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- The environmental problems are stacking up in Richmond. First, several flaring events at the local Chevron refinery two weeks ago. Then last week, a petroleum smell near Chevron, as well as a heavy stench coming from the city's wastewater treatment plant.

The cause was elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide.

"It was unbearable, and I can't imagine anyone having to spend more than a minute enduring that smell," said Richmond Mayor Eduardo Martinez.

Martinez says he's had enough.

VIDEO: Flaring at Richmond Chevron refinery caused by partial power loss at facility, officials say

Smoke was seen over the Chevron refinery in Richmond Monday afternoon due to a partial loss of power that caused flaring activity.

He tells ABC7 News, on Tuesday Richmond will hold a special emergency meeting over the state of the city's air quality.

Representatives from Veolia, the company that runs the wastewater plant, will also be in attendance.

"We hope to have a lot of the public there so that the Veolia executives can actually hear testimony as to what their company is doing to the Richmond community," Martinez said.

One of the areas most impacted by last week's incident was the Point Richmond neighborhood.

Nathan Trivers owns a local pub there and says this isn't the first time strange odors have impacted those who live and work nearby.

MORE: Strong odor reported in area of Chevron's Richmond refinery, city officials say

"We always would love for them to be conscious of the local community around there to do what they can do, but stuff happens," he said.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is investigating the incidents.

Veolia says the hydrogen sulfide smell was caused by work being done to replace a fan and to drain a tank at their plant.

In a statement they say in part:

"...We regret that this work may have inadvertently created an odor issue for neighbors in the area. We will review our processes with the City to ensure that the City has as much notice as possible of any future work that could create odor exposure, and we will continue to implement measures to mitigate odors at the wastewater plant."

MORE: Public nuisance violation issued to Richmond Chevron Refinery during odor inspection, officials say

Mayor Martinez says Tuesday's emergency meeting is just one step he wants to take though. He believes in the long run, the city of Richmond needs greater accountability for large companies.

The mayor says he'd like to see that accountability come in the form of more regulations and higher fines paid by large companies.

But he knows sometimes things aren't always that simple.

"The issue with corporations like Veolia or Chevron is that when you get into litigation with them is that they have deep pockets. Richmond does not."

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live