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Press Release

Industrial Safety Ordinance Report Highlights Success of Preventing Chemical Accidents

November 9, 2009

Contra Costa County has had tremendous success protecting workers and residents from accidents at refineries and chemical plants. In the past year, there was not a single major accident or release at any refinery or chemical plant in Contra Costa—a first since the county's Industrial Safety Ordinance was passed 11 years ago.

"This shows that the ordinance is working. It reflects years of hard work by the county Board of Supervisors, the community, the facilities and their unions, and our staff," said Randy Sawyer, director of the Contra Costa Health Services Hazardous Materials Division.

Sawyer and his colleagues will present the annual Industrial Safety Ordinance Report to the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, which begins at 9:30 a.m. at 651 Pine Street in Martinez.

Approved by the Board of Supervisors in 1998, the ordinance requires nine refineries and chemical plants in Contra Costa to take proactive measures to prevent accidents. Other programs, such as the Accidental Release Prevention Program, regulate another 40 or so facilities in Contra Costa.

Though it is the first year in which there has not been a major chemical accident or release in the county, it is the second consecutive year in which there has not been any such incident at a facility regulated by the ordinance.

"There has been a cultural change toward safety," Sawyer said. "By keeping with the Industrial Safety Ordinance and by strengthening its requirements, we will continue to increase our chances of preventing accidents that affect public health and employee safety."

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

A copy of the 2009 Industrial Safety Ordinance Report is available online at

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Press Contact
  • Randy Sawyer
  • 925-646-2286