E-Mail Forum
  Moving Chevron Penalty Money to Sonoma County
September 9, 2010

Many people have asked what can be done about the decision to use penalty money from a Chevron water quality violation (Officials Move Penalty Money From Richmond to Sonoma County, September 4, 2010) to fund a wetlands restoration project in Sonoma County.

One constituent suggested filing a Title VI (Civil Rights) complaint to which the government will at least have to respond.

On Monday of this week, I wrote the following letter, and I encourage anyone else to follow up with similar letters:

September 6, 2010

Director, Division of Diversity and Civil Rights
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Pacific Region
Eastside Federal Complex
911 NE 11th Avenue
Portland, OR 97232-4181
Telephone: 503 231-2260
FAX: 503 231-2322

Director, Office of Civil Rights
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C. Street, MS#: 5230, NW
Washington, D.C. 20240

Larry J. Beat, Director
NOAA Civil Rights Office
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Subject: Title VI Complaint Castro Cove/Chevron Refinery

To Whom It May Concern:
On behalf of the residents of Richmond, California, I am making this Public Civil Rights complaint pursuant to Title VI Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
I am a member of the Richmond City Council. The majority population of Richmond consists of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and American Indians. Richmond suffers an unemployment rate of 22.6%, nearly twice the average of Contra Costa County and the State of California. Minorities have an even higher rate. Richmond residents also suffer abnormally high rates of respiratory illnesses, including twice the national average for asthma.

As a result of over 100 years of industrial use on the Richmond shoreline, portions of it are degraded, hazardous and inaccessible to its residents. Some residents within the protected minority class routinely consume fish caught along the Richmond shoreline that are known to be hazardous.

According to the EPA, the Chevron Refinery in Richmond emits nearly 100,000 pounds of toxic waste from the site including more than 4,000 pounds of benzene (a known human carcinogen) and 455,000 pounds of ammonia, repeated exposure to which can cause an asthma-like illness and lead to lung damage. The Refinery is the single largest
source of greenhouse gas pollution in the state, according to data released by the state of

In short, Richmond is a community with significant environmental justice issues.

The community believes it is both wrong and discriminatory that a significant portion of the $2.85 million settlement with Chevron is being used for a habitat restoration project not only outside Richmond, where the violation occurred, but in another county. This discriminates against Richmond residents in favor of another county that does not have Richmond’s demographics in protected classes, Richmond’s high unemployment rate, Richmond’s low per capita income and Richmond’s shoreline related health hazards.

It is apparent that both this settlement and the end use of the funds was driven by a desire to restore Cullinan Ranch. It was only following repeated protests by the City of Richmond and several national and state legislators that even a portion of the funds were diverted to the Richmond Breuner Marsh project. Richmond has 32 miles of shoreline, more than any other city on San Francisco/San Pablo Bay, and there are ample opportunities to use the settlement funds on projects on the Richmond shoreline that can improve the Richmond environment and the health of Richmond residents. The entire settlement amount should have been spent where the violation occurred, in Richmond.

I am requesting that the agencies involved investigate this as Title VI violation.

Several attachments are included that help explain some of the history of this travesty.




Tom Butt

I have also asked the city attorney to look into the matter, including possible remedies, and I understand Councilmember Jim Rogers will place the matter on the next City Council agenda for consideration.