|Council Members Assail
March 4, 1997
Two Richmond City Council members are trying to repeal a program that allows Chevron Corp. to hire its own building inspectors after an employee who uncovered millions of dollars in safety violations was reassigned.
"How many of us would like to have the opportunity to hire our own building inspectors?" said City Councilman Tom Butt. "The thing that's ironic about this situation is that Chevron eventually got somebody who took their job seriously. He did his job and got canned."
Butt and Councilwoman Donna Powers are seeking a resolution to repeal or reform a program that allows Chevron to hire and fire deputy building inspectors who police the company during construction.
Butt said Chevron employee Terence Keefe had prepared a report in October highlighting many safety problems at Chevron Research and Technical Co., next to the company's refinery in Richmond. The repair bill totaled $15 million, Butt said.
Keefe presented the report to his superiors and Richmond building inspectors, and soon afterward was notified that he would be one of hundreds of employees laid off in a company restructuring.
Chevron officials denied that Keefe was being punished for compiling the report and said the safety issues he had raised were all being addressed. Company spokesman Hal Holt also said the estimated costs of the problems Keefe highlighted totaled about $2 million to $3 million, not the $15 million reported by Butt.
"We went through a downsizing and a merger of services with the refinery," Holt said. "He (Keefe) was put in the redeployment pool and not selected (for another inspector position). Why he was not selected I don't know."