Chevron Richmond Refinery in

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The Chevron Richmond Refinery is a 2,900 acre petroleum refinery in Richmond, California, on San Francisco Bay. It is owned and operated by Chevron Corporation and employs more than 1,200 workers,



The refinery was established several years before the City of Richmond was incorporated in 1905. Construction on the refinery began in 1901 between the Potrero Hills and the marshlands in the Point Richmond District; the refinery was opened in 1902. The refinery was built by Standard Oil and its first headquarters was in an abandoned farm house at the former site of the Peters and Silva Farms. The complex was described as "colossal" at the time and to this day it remains a very large complex in its kind. The Richmond refinery was in an excellent position with its plentiful crude oil, state-of-art equipment and prime location to capitalize on the increased demand for petroleum products on the West Coast. By 1915, the refinery spread across 435 acre, employed 1,700 workers, and had a capacity of 60000 oilbbl a day. Not only did the refinery produce transportation fuels, it also had a grease plant, an asphaltum plant, a can factory, a barrel works, a machine shop and a tank car repair shop.

The postwar years were also marked by a dramatic increase in demand for petrochemicals to serve as the building blocks for hundreds of essential consumer products. In 1951, a new unit was constructed to manufacture paraxylene, a basic material used for making synthetic fibers, as was the first of its kind to produce the chemical from petroleum. The West coast's first phenol plant was completed in 1954 for the production of lubricating oil and lubricating oil additive, resins and plastic, and plywood adhesives. A year later, another chemical plant for the manufacture of isophtalic was constructed, the first in the US. Isophtalic is a chemical intermediate used in plastics and surface coatings. In 1960, construction began on a $17 million complex for production of para- and orthoxylenes, important chemical intermediates, at the Richmond refinery. Another major project increased the capacity for production of alpha olefins, used extensively in the manufacture of "soft" detergents, lubricant additives, plastics and plasticizers.

In 1979, a worldwide shortage of crude oil, along with a shift in the availability of quality crudes, presented challenges to manufacturing operations. Chevron invested in the Richmond refinery, improving their flexibility for handling different types of crude oil, responding to changing product standards, installing energy conservation equipment, and complying with environmental or regulatory requirements. A $17 million direct digital computer control system was first installed in the Isomax plant, and later expanded to include all plants.

In 2002, the 100th anniversary of the Richmond refinery, the plant had over 1,300 employees, covered 2900 acre, operated 30 plants, and had the ability to move 340000 oilbbl per day of raw materials and finished products across its long wharf. By 2006, the refinery had a capacity of 225000 oilbbl a day and processed more crude oil than any other plant in the Bay Area and ranked among the major refineries in the U.S. These efforts are epitomized by Chevron's SMART (Save Money and Reduce Toxins) project, which reduced hazardous waste levels by more than 60 percent from 1986 through 1990 and cut freshwater usage by 30 percent in that same period. The refinery has also restored the Wildcat Creek Marsh, a 250 acre natural wetland by forming slough channels to the saltwater marsh that had been cut off by years of sediment deposits. The wetlands provide a habitat for two endangered species, the Salt Harvest Mouse and the California Clapper Rail.

Air Quality Monitoring

Chevron is currently implementing an Air Quality Monitoring program in the surrounding neighborhoods of North Richmond, Point Richmond and Atchison Village. This program is part of the Richmond Community Benefits Agreement (RCBA, Section 2.F(2)) for the Chevron Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project. The Air Quality Monitoring Program will sample air quality using testing methods similar to those used by government agencies and publish these results on a community-accessible website.

Some citizens routinely patrol the area with air collection bins to measure the chemical content of the air.

These measures are important, because on some cold winter days it is possible to smell the odor of the refinery in nearby towns.

2006 explosion

In 2006 an explosion at the Chevron Richmond Refinery left hundreds in hospitals and potentially scared Pixar away from the city.

Oil spill preparedness

Operations personnel assigned to the Richmond marine terminal receive extensive training in oil spill prevention. The Chevron refinery's marine oil-handling equipment, including pipelines and cargo hoses, receives rigorous inspection and testing at regular intervals to ensure no leaks occur. The refinery maintains an Oil Spill Response Team and regularly conducts oil spill drills with agencies such as the United States Coast Guard. The Team's training program exceeds state guidelines and includes defensive tactics to protect environmentally-sensitive sites should a spill occur. The refinery maintains over a dozen response boats at the marine terminal and has over 9500 ft of boom on hand.

Chevron is a charter member of the Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC), which since January 2005 includes the "legacy" Clean Bay Cooperative.

Castro Cove

Between 1902 and 1987 the refinery released noxious chemicals into the surrounding environment with impunity. This came in the form of contaminated process water from the industrial facilities of the complex. There are unhealthy levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and mercury in the estuarine habitats of Castro Cove and the San Pablo Creek Marsh adjacent to the refinery's runoff from their waste water outfall. The water is highly toxic to wildlife and is too polluted for fishing, swimming, or wading. The measure failed by 54%. However, in 2008 the measure was revived, modified to tax only large manufacturers; it passed by 51.5%. The city will use $3 million to construct a portion of the Bay Trail between the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Toll Plaza in the Point Richmond District along the city's western waterfront through Point Molate through to Point San Pablo. However, activists and California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi have been pushing Chevron to allow this in exchange for allowing the company to renew its 30-year lease on state tidelands that lie at the site of its port.<ref name="notrail"/> In addition, the Richmond city council passed a resolution 8-1 directing mayor Gayle McLaughlin to ask the California State Land Use Commission to persuade Chevron to permit the trail.<ref name="wharf"/>

See also

  • Chevron Corporation
  • Richmond, California
  • Rodeo San Francisco Refinery
  • List of oil refineries
  • Refinery

External links