I am deeply disappointed and quite frankly, downright angry upon learning of yet another potentially hazardous release by the Martinez Refining Company (MRC), the second incident to have occurred in less than a year.
As someone who grew up in Martinez, at times in the shadow of the refinery, I share the frustrations and demands for accountability by our residents. For months, we have patiently waited for the appropriate regulatory bodies to complete their investigations of the November 2022 incident while at the same time receiving what now appears to have been false reassurances by MRC that they had taken corrective steps to avoid any further occurrences.
Martinez has been a refinery town for well over a century and many of our residents moved here with that knowledge, my own family included. While our community has grown and flourished throughout this time, what has not changed is the need and obligation for the refinery to be a good corporate citizen and neighbor. The refinery has and continues to support many of our cherished community organizations for which we are enormously grateful, but that can not and should not absolve them of their responsibility to put safety first.
Therefore, it is my sincere hope that Contra Costa County Health (CCH) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), along with the additional agencies investigating the November 2022 incident which also includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, will move in an expeditious and thorough manner to hold MRC accountable to the greatest extent permitted under both civil and criminal law in order to protect the future health and well-being of our residents.
Following the November incident, the City of Martinez took the added and unprecedented step of creating its own notification system in response to the failure by MRC to notify the appropriate regulatory bodies that there had been a potentially hazardous release as is required by law. Under the leadership of Chief Andrew White, the Martinez Police Department launched an emergency mass notification system known as “Martinez Alerts” which notified nearly 15,000 residents of yesterday’s incident with instructions on how to opt-in for additional alerts moving forward. Although it is still in its initial stages, the City welcomes any and all constructive feedback to further improve its notification processes.
To learn more, please visit www.cityofmartinez.org/alerts
Satinder S. Malhi
Councilmember, District 3
- July 11: Contra Costa Health Investigating Coke Dust Release by Martinez Refining Company
- June 8: Risk Assessment Finds Martinez Refinery Release Did Not Increase Risk of Exposure to Hazardous Metals in Local Soils
- May 17: Health Advisory Lifted After Weeklong Mercury Cleanup in Martinez
- May 4 – Soil Sampling Being Done Around Martinez Refinery to Assess Health Risks
- March 7 – Health Department Safety Advice on Gardening to Residents who Live Near Martinez Refinery
- Feb 24 – County Offers Gardening Tip After Spent Catalyst Possibly Made Way into Martinez Soil
- Jan 5 – Health Department Asks DA to Pursue Legal Action Against Martinez Refining Company
- Dec 31, 2022 – Martinez Refining Company Says Maintenance Work Could Result in Flaring
- Dec 23, 2022 – Martinez Refining Company Statement on Thursday Flaring
- Dec 19, 2022 – Martinez Announces Town Hall Meeting to Discuss Martinez Refining Company Incidents
- Dec 14, 2022 – Contra Costa Health Recommends an Independent Investigation of Martinez Refinery Release
- Dec 9, 2022 – Flaring Friday Night at the Martinez Refining Company
- Nov 30, 2022 – Hazardous Materials Release at Martinez Oil Refinery Contained Heavy Metals
- Nov 29, 2022 – Test Show White Dust Released in Martinez Was “Spent Catalyst”
- Nov 28, 2022 – Ash-Like Substance Being Investigated in Martinez, Company Offers Free Car Wash