We need an ISO
As a Benicia resident I found out about the May 5 Valero refinery near-catastrophic emergency shutdown and major flaring incident in real time, when I drove through the large black cloud of smoke looming over Interstate 680 which was headed directly toward the Suisun Marsh and the city of Fairfield. The fire trucks and police were at the refinery, and as I drove by I received information about the incident and the shelter in place order from my radio. Luckily for me, my car seals up tight when the windows and vents are closed so I had no adverse effects, but unfortunately, some people close to the incident required medical care. Neither our town of Benicia nor the residents ever received any information about what happened, what was in the black cloud and what could help prevent another major incident like this in the future.
It wasn’t until 5 months later that a KQED reporter shared a very limited investigative report from Solano County about the incident. This is surprising, being Solano County has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma and ER visits for asthma in the state of California, and the public would have benefited from knowing what had been in that black cloud. It seems there is a problem with the reporting mechanism that left the city government of Benicia and its residents in Solano County in the dark about what happened. Also, it seems that there are no air monitors in the town of Benicia that accurately measures toxic incidents in real time that are able to give a report of what was released.
These two areas could be greatly improved on if we had an Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO).
Benicia is the only jurisdiction in the Bay Area that contains a refinery but doesn’t have an ISO.
Contra Costa County adopted an ISO and revised it after the 2012 Chevron Fire to help facilitate cooperation between industry, the city, the county, local fire departments, Cal/OSHA, Cal/EPA, other agencies that have oversight of businesses, and the public in the prevention and reduction of incidents at their refineries.
Their ISO has been praised as the best safety ordinance in the country and we have the opportunity to hear about it at an expert safety panel discussion (including representatives that created the Contra Costa ISO) on Nov. 14 at 7pm, in the Benicia Library at 150 East L St., which is free to the public.
This issue is extremely important, as the residents of Richmond found out after the 2012 Chevron catastrophic fire that resulted in 15,000 people seeking medical treatment at area hospitals. Community support is needed to encourage our city government to protect us citizens and our children in creating and adopting a Benicia ISO and attending this panel meeting is the essential first step, so I urge you all to come.
Member of Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community
Cavalier approach to water/sewer rates
Mayor Patterson, have you ever really looked into why the residents are very angry about water/sewer rates? Let me give you my answer. My current water bill is $38 dollars higher than last year. That is a 21 percent increase. On the surface, that does not look all that bad but looking further into the bill tells the real story. In the current statement, I used 25 percent less water during the same period. Also, the current bill has two less days so now let’s compare. Water consumption and maintenance charge for 2016 was $71. For 201,7 it was $80. That is $9 higher or a 13 percent increase on water consumption/maintenance.
Sewer maintenance/consumption charge was $111 for 2016. For 2017, the charge was $132. That is $22 higher or an increase of 20 percent. 2016 has a drought surcharge of $10 and a senior discount of $7. The net charge is $3. For 2017, there was a meter replacement charge of $12 and no drought surcharge or senior discount. Therefore. the 2017 bill has an increase charge of $9. This increase was for fewer days and less water usage. Now that is a very simple answer why the residents are angry at you, Mayor Patterson.
We must also remember there will be an increase in 2018 again. Just how did this happen? Very simple, the mayor did not take responsibility for over 13 years, then hit the citizens with a big rate increase. This would not have happened if the mayor was a better leader/manager of financial and consumer issues. It is your fault, Mayor Patterson. You can fix it if you truly care about the residents.
By the way this issue is not going away. It will be a big issue in the 2018 council election. My prediction is you will delay and use the same old rhetoric you have used in the past. My suggestion to voters would be to not vote for any candidate backed by the mayor for 2018 City Council election. You will get the same agenda-driven personal ideals which does not include all residents. Time’s up, Mayor Patterson. I do hope you enjoy your retirement at the end of 2020. You will not be re-elected if you choose to run again.The “Owl” will be watching.
Bob “The Owl” Livesay,