Across the bay from San Francisco’s glittering downtown sit two large petrochemical refineries spewing more than 550 tons a year of particulate matter — which can cause deadly cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses — into the air and communities nearby. The Chevron refinery in Richmond and PBF Energy refinery in Martinez are responsible for 11 percent of all particulate matter emissions from facilities regulated by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, or BAAQMD, the local air emissions regulator. For years, community advocates have been trying to get the district to crack down on the two operations’ pollution.
On Wednesday, they were handed a decisive win. In a 19-3 vote, the 24-member board of the air district voted to require the facilities to reduce particulate matter emissions dramatically, giving the companies five years to achieve a 70 percent reduction combined. The stringent standards can be met by installing wet gas scrubbers, a type of equipment that pulls particulate matter out of the emissions stream and is estimated to cost approximately $250 million to install. The measures will also result in $26 million to $59 million in health benefits to t... Read more