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Richmond California The growing crisis of the communities in the city of Richmond California


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Title: Richmond California The growing crisis of the communities in the city of Richmond California

Richmond CaliforniaThe growing crisis of the
communities in the city of Richmond California
  • Tyler Fowler
  • URBS/GEOG 515 Race, Poverty The Environment
  • Professor Raquel Pinderhughes, Urban Studies
    Environmental Studies Programs, San Francisco
    State University
  • Spring 2004
  • Public has permission to use the material herein,
    but only if author, course, university, and
    professor are credited.

  • This presentation focuses on the environmental
    conditions and environmental injustice issues in
    relation to the communities in Richmond
    California as a result of hundreds of
    petrochemical and industrial facilities located
    in the city.
  • It is designed to take a look at how the
    placement of these facilities is having a
    devastating effect on the natural environment and
    the communities living within them. It analyzes
    and describes the struggles of the Richmond
    community, paying particular attention to the
    social, environmental and public health impacts
    of the processes associated with these toxic
  • We start by taking a look at the history of
    Richmond and how it became a city littered with
    industrial activity. We will next look at the
    environmental impacts these facilities are having
    on the natural environment. This will be followed
    by the social impacts and Environmental injustice
    issues that are happening as a result of the
    placement of these facilities. And finally we
    will analyze how the people of Richmond are
    coming together and fighting for their health and
    well being as a community.

Alison De Lucca http//
/richmond.htm (April 2004) (April 2004)
  • The City of Richmond is located in Northern
    California just northeast of San Francisco in
    Contra Costa County.
  • Richmond is a predominantly African American
    community that has a population of 99,216 (U.S
    Census Bureau 2000)

  • Richmond is a city that over time has grown into
    being the host to several petrochemical,
    industrial, and chemical manufacturing
    facilities. All of these facilities produce,
    transport, and store enormous amounts of
    hazardous and harmful materials.
  • The placement of these facilities in the city has
    caused the people in the community to become
    victims of Environmental Injustice. Income level
    and race determine where these toxic sites are
    located and poor people and people of color
    experience a disproportionate exposure to the

Alison De Lucca http//
/richmond.htm (April 2004)
  • Richmond was never primarily a minority
    community that was overwhelmed by petrochemical
    and industrial land uses. The city grew because
    industry attracted residents with the promise of
    jobs. One of the first companies to move in was
    an explosive company by the name of Orks in 1878.
    Soon other explosive companies followed because
    of the areas growing construction needs.
    (Richmond, CA Info)
  • Then the decision to make Richmond the terminal
    point for the Santa Fe Rails transcontinental
    line in 1900, combined with an ideal shipping
    port attracted several other manufacturing
    facilities to the city. So in 1902 Standard Oil
    constructed the second largest refinery in the
    entire world. They were soon followed by Western
    Pipe and Steel and a few other companies which
    started the industrial trend. (Richmond, CA Info) Heislers.htm Point
Richmond, CA 1948 ppcs-ccc.html
  • Richmond then incorporated as a city in 1905 and
    started bringing in several new industries.
    Residential plots and small businesses began to
    emerge around these industries and Richmond
    started to transform into a heavily populated
    industrial city. (Richmond, CA Info)
  • However it wasnt until the beginning of World
    War II that the population of Richmond began to
    explode. Located in Richmond was one of the
    largest production facilities for building ships
    (one per day) for the War, Kaiser Shipyard which
    alone employed 100,000 workers during the peak of
    the war. The population in Richmond before the
    war was 23,642 and after was well over 100,000.
    The cities current racial composition can be
    traced back to this period because many blacks
    from the south left their farms looking for
    employment created as a result of the war.
    (Richmond, CA Info) ppcs-ccc.html ppcs-ccc.html
  • After world war II growth slowed down and jobs
    were lost but most of the industrial facilities
    stayed put.
  • Today Richmond, California still has the same
    landscape as it did during the war. It is a large
    landmass of industrial sprawl with surrounding
    housing and small businesses.
  • Over time these facilities have significantly
    destroyed the air, water, and soil quality.
    Leading to health and safety problems for the
    people of the community.

  • Here is a diagram of all of the Oil refineries
    located in and around the city of Richmond. Some
    of the TRI sites listed are also refineries.

Alison De Lucca http//
/richmond.htm (April 2004)
Toxic release inventory sites (TRI) are sites
where there has been toxic releases such as
explosions involving toxic gases, spills
releasing hazardous liquids, or any form of
release that has chemical or harmful substances.
As you can see Contra Costa County has had many
toxic releases making it one of the most unsafe
counties to live in, in the United States. People
living in these areas are obviously at higher
health and safety risks. You can also see that
most of the sites are located at the Northernmost
parts of the County and especially in the city of
Richmond and this is because this area is
adjacent to the waterways of the delta and into
the bay.
Alison De Lucca http//
/richmond.htm (April 2004)
  • Some environmental issues that have come about as
    a result of the Environmental damage that has
    occurred as a consequence of these companies are
  • Land and soil degradation
  • Water and ground water contamination
  • Air pollution

  • Soil
  • Through industrial process and oil refining there
    can be oil and other chemicals spilled on the
    soil. This usually happens as a result of an
    explosion or while transporting. Once on the soil
    the oil and chemicals get soaked in and over time
    and can leak into the groundwater harming both
    animal and human health.
  • Another problem is when we clean up a spill all
    we do is dig up the contaminated soil and take it
    somewhere else such as a landfill where it will
    have the same impacts.

  • Water
  • These toxic facilities are major contributors to
    ground and surface water.
  • Water disposed of by these facilities is usually
    highly contaminated by all of the chemicals it
    came in contact with during different processes.
  • Most of the water from oil refining usually comes
    from cooling towers, desalting processes,
    distillation, and storm water runoff.
  • The water is usually recycled throughout the
    systems multiple times meaning it could come in
    contact with more than just one substance.
  • Although the wastewater is regulated under the
    Clean Water Act, (CWA) this is only at the point
    source it is not regulated in non-point source
    runoff and seepage.
  • The sign below shows just how toxic the waters
    have become in the bay. The sign is showing that
    the shellfish in the area are considered deadly.

Shellfish deadly Point Isabel Regional Shoreline,
Richmond, CA (1987)
  • Air
  • Oil refining companies are the biggest culprit in
    contributing to air pollution.
  • Here is a list of some of the pollutants that
    come out of the refining processes.
  • Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene,
  • Particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon
    monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfer dioxide.
  • Some of these chemicals are known cancer causing
  • These toxins can also be responsible for
    developmental and reproduction problems and the
    development of respiratory problems such as
  • They are also harmful to the environment in the
    form of global warming and ozone depletion.
  • These toxins are usually released when there are
    valve leaks, burning of fuels for energy,
    explosions and accidents, fugitive releases, and
    regular emissions.

    Petroleum/Coal Products
    Chemical Prdct/Production 471
    Retail Food Stores
    Stores 292
    Primary Metal Industry
    Chemical Prdct/Production 218
    Transportation Equipment 194
    Instruments Rltd Prdcts 193
    Genl Merchandise Retail 168
    Department Stores
    Industrial Equipment
    Brokers Agencies 153
    Department Stores
    Retail Food Stores
  • Here is a list of some of the businesses in the
    city of Richmond. You can see the highlighted
    companies are the ones working with highly
    polluting industrial and chemical processes.
  • The EMP rank is the employment rank which shows
    what companies employ the most people and you can
    see that the petrochemical and other industrial
    companies are some of the companies employing the
    most people

  • I will now analyze the company that was number
    one on the list in the previous slide, one of the
    biggest polluting facilities in Richmond
  • ChevronTexaco one of the largest oil companies in
    the world, operates refineries and industrial
    plants in Richmond.
  • The company makes billions of dollars in profits
    and is high up in being a major political and
    economic player in California. They are one of
    the wealthiest companies in the world as members
    of the Fortune 500. The company has spent
    millions of dollars on advertising campaigns to
    promote their concern for the environment while
    in the background they are spending even more for
    lobbying and campaign contributions that are
    aimed at degrading environmental, human, and
    labor standards. (Project Underground)

  • The ChevronTexaco refinery has been one of the
    top ranking toxic waste producers for over a
    decade. In 2000, Chevron Texaco released about
    1.5 million pounds of toxics, on site and off
    site, into the air, land and water of the bay
    area. (Project Underground)
  • The EPA alleged that ChevronTexaco did not
    fully report a few different toxic chemical
    spills. They also were accused of violating the
    Clean Air Act on many different occasions between
    1991 and 1995 by bypassing the refinerys water
    treatment system and discharging water that
    exceeded toxicity limits. Within these releases
    was hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen fluoride, sulfur
    dioxide, and sulfuric acid. (Project
  • All of these violations were discovered when
    federal and state investigators found that the
    plants wastewater could not pass an acute
    toxicity test. One test was to drop some baby
    trout and other fish in the water to see if they
    would survive and not a single one did.
    (Project Underground)

These are Large manmade columns of water created
to try and dissolve out chemicals from the
Chevron Refinery
  • Here are just a few issues that have been taken
    up against ChevronTexaco.
  • Conversationalists have challenged the amount of
    pollution the Chevron Oil refinery in Richmond is
    allowed to dump into San Francisco Bay.
  • Communities for a Better Environment contend
    state regulators broke state and federal laws by
    allowing Chevron to dump too much dioxin into the
    bay. (RiverWatch)
  • The state warns people not to eat more than
    certain amounts of fish from the Bay, but they're
    not telling Chevron to reduce its contribution to
    the harm," said Greg Karras, a scientist for the
    statewide group based in Oakland. (RiverWatch)
  • Karras also said new data that industries report
    to the federal EPA shows that Chevron accounts
    for more dioxin pollution than any other
    industrial plant in the bay area. (RiverWatch)

  • A good example of how the community of Richmond
    negotiated with Chevron in order to make the city
    cleaner, was when GNP (Good Neighbor Project)
    teamed up with the West County Toxics Coalition
    and several community groups to help the
    communities that were predominantly
    African-American and located near the refinery.
    GNP helped attain a Good Neighbor Agreement among
    the parties in which chevron agreed to
  • Install 350 "leakless" valves in a new project
    and retrofit 200-400 valves in the existing
  • Continue to reduce toxic emissions from the
    refinery beyond the 60 achieved between
  • Provide skilled job training to 100 local
  • Contribute 2 million to a local health center.
  • Install sirens and computers, train emergency
    workers and establish and fund a city Emergency
    Services coordinator position for five years.
  • Redirect 5 million in corporate philanthropy to
    nearest and poorest neighbors over five years.
  • Spend 100,000 over 3 years to restore native
    vegetation along bayshore property.
  • Work with East Bay Regional Parks to complete a
    feasibility study for constructing a bike trail
    from Pt. Richmond to Pt. San Pablo. (Riverwatch)

  • In another story where the Richmond community won
    a big victory was when the Richmond City Council
    Energy Subcommittee voted to reject a proposed
    heavily polluting power plant. And did something
    completely opposite and voted to support new
    studies towards clean and renewable energy.
    (Green Action)
  • One hundred residents of this low-income
    community heavily impacted by polluting
    industries turned out to denounce the proposed
    500 megawatt power plant that reportedly would
    have used oil-derived fuel. (Green Action)
  • In response to the unanimous objections from
    the community to the power plant plan, the City
    Council vote was greeted with cheers and a
    standing ovation from the audience. (Green

  • As was mentioned before the majority of the
    population in Richmond is African American but
    not by much 31.4 is white 12.3 Asian and
    about 14 Latino. (Richmond Ca, Info)
  • And although Richmond is mostly an industrial
    city there is a portion of Richmond that is often
    overlooked. This portion is inhabited by middle
    to upper-class mostly white families. It is
    located far from the refineries with views of the
    water and a golf course near by. The prices of
    some homes in this area can reach one million
  • This just shows how segregated the community is.
    The majority of African Americans and Latinos are
    located within the closest proximity of the toxic
    sites while the majority of whites live far away
    from the toxic sites.

m (Richmond California Info)
  • This picture shows just how close the Richmond
    schools are to the refineries and TRIs. The
    schools located in side the circle are all within
    one mile of one of these sites.
  • This is a major problem considering that kids are
    at more risk for serious health problems. There
    is an ever-growing body of science showing that
    children are much more vulnerable than adults to
    chemical exposure, yet most health standards for
    pollution are set at levels that protect just
    adults," said Assemblywoman Escutia. "Kids can't
    speak up for themselves nor can they shield
    themselves from the dangers of pollution. (The
    California League of Conservation)

One mile radius circle
Alison De Lucca http//
/richmond.htm (April 2004)
Alison De Lucca http//
/richmond.htm (April 2004)
  • You can see from the above pictures that the
    location of the TRI sites are in the most
    impoverished and non-white areas.
  • It is clear that income level and race are
    factors that are closely related to the location
    of these toxic sites. There is no question that
    people of color experience a disproportionate
    exposure to harmful toxins.

  • The 1989 CBE report Richmond At Risk Community
    Demographics and Toxic Hazards from Industrial
    Polluters documents this environmental racism,
    finding that the toxic hazards in the Richmond
    industrial zones were located adjacent to 14
    neighborhoods where 70 to 90 of the residents
    were African-American. (Richmond Greens)
  • In one incident more than 7000 pounds of
    sulfuric acid fumes poured from a leaky General
    Chemical railroad car for three hours, forming a
    corrosive cloud that sent up to 20,000 people to
    hospital (Richmond Greens)
  • Michael Belliveau, the executive director of the
    California Citizens for a Better Environment
    (CBE) stated in a hearing on the spill on August
    10, Over the last five years, more than 10 other
    major chemical releases and explosions have
    killed one person, severely burned four people
    and exposed thousands more throughout the
    county. (Richmond Greens)

  • We are expendable. Our lives are not important.
    They feel that they can continue to trample on
    our human dignity. These comments from Henry
    Clark, the executive director of the West County
    Toxics Coalition and a resident of North
    Richmond, the area hardest hit by the toxic
    release, reflect the general mood.(Richmond
  • Michelle Jackson of Neighborhood House in North
    Richmond underlined this in her testimony. This
    racism was blatant when African American females
    were taken to the fire station and asked to take
    off all their clothes while white firemen watered
    their naked bodies down with water hoses looking
    very promiscuous... This racism was blatant when
    residents who were taken over 50 kilometres away
    for care ... were left to find their own way
    back to North Richmond ... This racism was
    blatant when nobody, absolutely nobody came to
    North Richmond to do an environmental check on
    the elderly, children, families, and residents
    with prior documented respiratory
    problems.(Richmond Greens)
  • http//

  • Here are some examples of how the people in the
    Richmond community are being affected and how
    they feel about it
  • Dortha Reid who move to Richmond near the chevron
    refinery and other chemical plants has watched
    her sick children and her grandchildren develop
  • "There's nothing worse than sitting up with a new
    baby that's sick," said Reid, 55, who herself got
    the disease as an adult. "My great-grandson, we
    had to take him to the hospital for three days
    when he was 4 months old."
  • Children are particularly susceptible to asthma
    attacks, which can be triggered by dust, mold,
    cigarette smoke and air pollution, health experts
  • While Contra Costa's asthma rate among children
    is 9 percent, according to the UCLA study,
    sufferers are highly concentrated in Richmond,
    San Pablo and Bay Point, areas where
    neighborhoods border refineries and chemical
    plants, figures from the county and state
    Department of Public Health show
  • In Contra Costa, 181 residents, 11 of them
    children, died from asthma from 1992 to 2000.
    From 1995 to 1997, 3,219 Contra Costa residents
    were hospitalized for asthma, 1,105 of them
    children, the California Department of Health
    Services reports.
  • "In the final end it comes down to a disrespect
    for us," said Henry Clark, executive director of
    the West County Toxics Coalition. "We're not
    recognized as human beings. You can dump garbage
    on them, you can dump waste on them."
  • (Richmond Greens)

  • Here are some facts pulled directly from the
    Black Leadership Forum
  • The air in African American communities
    violates air quality standards. In 2002, 71 of
    African Americans live in counties that violate
    federal air pollution standards, compared to 58
    of the white population. (Black Leadership
  • Most African Americans live near a power plant.
    Seventy-eight percent of African Americans live
    within 30 miles of a power plant - the distance
    within which the maximum effects of the
    smokestack plume are expected to occur. By
    comparison, about 56 of the white population
    live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power
    plant. (Black Leadership Forum)
  • Asthma attacks send African Americans to the
    emergency room at three times the rate (174.3
    visits per 10,000 population) of whites (59.4
    visits per 10,000 population). African Americans
    are hospitalized for asthma at more than three
    times the rate of whites. (Black Leadership
  • The death rate from asthma for African Americans
    is twice that of whites (38.7 deaths per million
    population vs. 14.2 deaths per million
    population. (Black Leadership Forum)

  • This is a copy of an interview with Dr. Robert
    Bullard, one of the pioneering scholars and
    activists in the environmental justice movement
    that I think hits the nail on the head I
    highlighted what I thought were some of the best
  • Earth First interviewed Robert Bullard about
    environmental justice for people of color. Earth
    First stands in solidarity with people who are
    subjected to environmental racism by
    multinational corporations like
  • From the Earth First journal
  • "RB Race is still the potent factor for
    predicting where Locally Unwanted Land Uses
    (LULUs) go. A lot of people say its class, but
    race and class are intertwined. Because the
    society is so racist and because racism touches
    every institution--employment, housing,
    education, facility siting, land use decisions,
    you can't really extract race out of decisions
    that are being made by persons who are in power
    and the power arrangements are unequal. When we
    talk about the institution of racism as it exists
    in environmental policy, enforcement, land use,
    zoning and all those things. All of that is part
    of the environment and we have to make sure that
    our brothers and sisters who are in environmental
    groups understand that's what we are saying.
  • Environmental justice is not a social program,
    it's not affirmative actions, its about justice.
    and until we get justice in environmental
    protection, justice in terms of enforcement of
    regulations, we will not even talk about
    achieving sustainable development or
    sustainability issues until we talk about
    justice. A lot of the groups that are trying to
    address these issues in the absence of dealing
    with race may be fooling themselves. When we talk
    about what's happening along the US-Mexican
    border and the colonias and the maquilas and the
    devastation that is happening along the border,
    the health conditions of children and workers and
    not understand that it's also related to our
    consumption patterns, consumption behavior and
    who has the most money to consume the most. And
    those are issues that may be unpopular when we
    sit in rooms and talk but I think that's how the
    environmental justice movement is forcing these
    issues on the table and really getting a lot of
    people to think about how we can start to address
    the disparities and the inequities and the
    privileged position that some people have only
    because of the skin color that they were born in.
    And that's where the justice issues come into
  • Now all of the issues of environmental racism and
    environmental justice don't just deal with people
    of color. We are just as much concerned with
    inequities in Appalachia, for example, where the
    whites are basically dumped on because of lack of
    economic and political clout and lack of having a
    voice to say "no" and that's environmental
    injustice. So we're trying to work with groups
    across the political spectrums democrats,
    republicans, independents, on the reservations,
    in the barrios, in the ghettos, on the border and
    internationally to see that we address these
    issues in a comprehensive manner. "

  • Here is a list of what the Green Party is
    proposing for Richmond CA
  • The Green Party proposes to
  • Phase out fossil fuels and convert to renewable
    energy sources
  • Reduce the use of fossil fuels by large scale
    conservation and by converting to safe, renewable
    energy sources
  • The Richmond Greens propose to
  • Reduce the use of fossil fuels by large scale
    conservation and by gradually converting to safe,
    renewable energy sources.
  • Participate in a regional Public Power entity
    which has a comprehensive plan to phase out
    completely the utilization of fossil fuels for
    energy production, replacing them gradually with
    clean renewable sources.
  • Declare Richmond a "Clean Industry ONLY Zone".
  • Phase out fossil fuel production in Richmond.
  • Have Chevron-Texaco provide a comprehensive early
    retirement package (including substantial
    severance pay and re-training programs) to all
    employees affected by the downsizing and eventual
    closing of theRichmond Chevron Texaco refinery,
    and related industries (General Chemical).
  • Mandate Chevron to clean up the 100 years of
    pollution accumulated in the land. Restrict the
    uses of the land to activities which enhance the
    cleaning upprocess.
  • Compensate appropriately the Richmond residents
    whose health and well being have being affected
    by years of pollution from the refinery and
    related industry.
  • Use tax measures and land use permits to force
    Chevron to comply with the will of the people of
    Richmond. (RICHMOND GREENS)

  • In conclusion Richmond California has a community
    base that is going in the right direction. They
    are forming groups and taking action against the
    companies polluting their city and making their
    families sick. ChevronTexaco and other highly
    polluting companies will not be leaving any time
    soon but they can be cleaned up and regulated.
  • And as far as Environmental Injustice and racism
    the community just needs to keep fighting for
    their rights and educating as many people as
    possible about their situation. There needs to be
    a change in how we decide where toxic facilities
    are placed. Finding the most impoverished cities
    with communities of color is Environmental
    injustice and is usually tied to racism.
  • Here are a few of the community groups that are a
    devoted to change in Richmond, CA that you can
    look further into for more information
  • The West County Toxics Coalition -Up to 1000
    members of the Richmond community have come
    together under the banner of this community
  • Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) -An
    environmental group based in the San Francisco
    Bay Area, CBE has provided much technical and
    scientific assistance to local community groups.
    CBE helped provide scientific information and
    expertise about the Chevron refineries and other
    industrial plants to the residents of Richmond.
  • Richmond Greens - Green Values the African
    American Community
  • Richmond Progressive Alliance - We are an
    alliance of Progressive Democrats, Greens and
    Independents coming together in progressive
    unity  for a better and healthier Richmond,
  • Green Action Green action mobilizes community
    power to win victories that change government and
    corporate policies and practices to protect
    health and to promote environmental justice.

Work Cited
  • Environmental update 12 Published by the
    Hazourdous Substance Research Centers (June 2003)
    Accessed 4/18/04
  • http//
  • Project Underground Richmond, California Accessed
  • http//
  • River watch Accessed 4/15/04
  • http//
  • Smart Community Network -Good Neighbor Agreement
    with Chevron Richmond Refinery Accessed 4/15/04
  • http//
  • Richmond, California Information Homepage
    Accessed 4/20/04
  • http//
  • Redefining Richmond A Preliminary Study of the
    Toxic Release Inventory Sites Located in Richmond
  • Alison De Lucca Mid-term UP206A   Professor Leo
    Estrada November, 2000
  • http//

Work Cited Continued
  • Black Leadership Forum Inc, Air of Injustice
    African Americans and power plant pollution
  • http//
  • Green Action Victory for clean, Renewable Energy
    in Richmond, California
  • http//
  • http//
  • Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide
  • E-LAW Impact South Africa Rejects Hazardous
    Waste Incineration
  • viewpage.asp
  • Environmental racism and oil refineries by moth
    Tuesday November 04, 2003 at 0233 PM
  • http//
  • Environmnetal Justice An interview with Robert
    Bullard July 1999 by Errol Schweizer
  • http//
  • Richmond Greens Many neighborhoods One
  • http//