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Press Release

Annual Industrial Safety Ordinance Report Shows No Major Incidents

Monday, December 8, 2008

Six Contra Costa refineries and chemical plants are much safer for their workers and the community thanks to a county law put into place 10 years ago.

According to a report recently released by Contra Costa Health Services´ Hazardous Materials Programs, 2008 was the first year in which there were no major chemical accidents or releases at facilities covered by the county´s Industrial Safety Ordinance.

Program staff will present the report to the Board of Supervisors at its meeting on Tuesday, which begins at 9:30 a.m. at 651 Pine Street, Martinez. The presentation will include a review of accident history at the facilities and a brief report of what the county and the facilities have done to improve safety.

"There has been a change in the way facilities are doing business. The ordinance has really had an impact on the number and severity of incidents," said Randy Sawyer, Director of Hazardous Materials Programs.

Passed into law by the Board of Supervisors in 1998, the ordinance requires six refineries and chemical plants in unincorporated Contra Costa to install safer systems, investigate the root causes of incidents and identify human factors. Contra Costa has more hazardous materials per capita than any other county in the state. As a result, its Industrial Safety Ordinance is also the strictest.

Although there was an incident at a facility in May 2008, it was at a facility not covered by the county´s ordinance. Among the highlights of the report is increased cooperation by facilities, said Cho Nai Cheung, Accidental Release Prevention Programs Engineer Supervisor.

"At first, plants thought it would slow down business," Cheung said. "But they found out it has been safer and better for business."

The Hazardous Materials division performs in-depth inspections at each site every three years. It also performs unannounced inspections at each site every other year to see how facilities are doing, Sawyer said.

"The ordinance keeps safety as a top priority and allows us to monitor the safety efforts of the facilities," Sawyer said. "Safety has improved and it shows a lot of effort by the Board, the community, facilities and my staff."

The six sites covered by the ordinance are: Air Products at the Shell Oil Products US Martinez Refinery; Air Products at the Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery; Shell Martinez Refining Company; General Chemical West in Bay Point; ConocoPhillips Rodeo Refinery; and Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery near Martinez.

For more information about the county´s Industrial Safety Ordinance or to view a list of major chemical accidents and releases, visit

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Press Contact
  • Randy Sawyer
  • 925-646-2286