Activists Protesting at Chevron Refinery as Part of 'Global Day of Action'

Environmentalists are at the Richmond refinery protesting the practices of the San Ramon-based company.

Environmentalists and other community activists in Richmond are taking part in a "global day of action" against Chevron today by protesting what they say is the company's disregard for human rights and the environment.
Protesters were set to gather around 11 a.m. near the entrance to Chevron's Richmond refinery at the intersection of Richmond Parkway and Castro Street. Other demonstrations against Chevron are happening today in a number of countries, including in Argentina, Ecuador and Nigeria, by groups who say they have been adversely affected by the oil giant, according to organizers from Amazon Watch, a group that advocates on behalf of indigenous communities.
The protesters in Richmond and abroad are calling on consumers and governments not to do business with Chevron and its subsidiary, Texaco, until the company implements new environmental protections.
"The global day of protest and call for solidarity against Chevron is a critical step in the growing effort to hold Chevron accountable for its human rights abuses around the world," said Paz y Miño, online and operations director at Amazon Watch.
The abuses include harmful health effects stemming from Chevron's alleged dumping of oil and contaminated water in Ecuador's Amazon region, fracking in ancestral lands in Argentina, and the August 2012 fire at its Richmond refinery that sent some 15,000 people to hospitals and led to a $2 million fine for the company, according to Amazon Watch.
"Chevron needs to shift its corporate culture and put health and safety first, before its profits, whether in Richmond, Ecuador, Nigeria and everywhere else it does business," said Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, who was scheduled to speak at this morning's protest.
Today's demonstration also comes a week before Chevron's annual shareholders meeting, which CEO John Watson recently announced would be moved from company headquarters in San Ramon to Midland, Texas.
Amazon Watch organizers say the company has a policy of vilifying its critics, as well as the communities victimized by its pollution, and that the trend has worsened under Watson. But company spokesman Justin Higgs said Chevron has worked to better the communities in which it works, creating jobs, reliable energy and investment in local programs.
"We place the highest priority on the health and safety of our workforce and communities, and developing energy in ways that respect the environment," Higgs said. "We conduct business in an ethical and responsible way, and engage openly with our employees, partners and communities," he said.
The spokesman said Chevron is Richmond's largest employer and taxpayer and has invested more than $580 million in the community over the past five years in local business development and education.
"Chevron wants to continue to help restore Richmond to being a vibrant and thriving community, and needs to invest in its refinery to keep it safe, reliable and competitive in order to do so," Higgs said.

—By Bay City News


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