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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism
Richmond and the Philippines: Residents Voice Outrage Against Chevron's Environmental Heal
On Sunday, December 10, International Human Rights Day, dozens of concerned residents, environmental leaders, students, and families gathered in front of Richmond's oil refinery and depot, voicing their outrage against Chevron Corporation's impacts on the environmental health and safety of residents of Pandacan, Philippines and Richmond, California. Chevron must recognize and implement corporate responsibility towards communities both locally and internationally, said protestors.
For Immediate Release Contact: Aileen Suzara, 808-896-7299
December 12, 2006 Lea Francisco, 510-549-1808
International Human Rights Day
The Philippines and Richmond: Residents Voice Outrage Against Chevron's Environmental Health Impacts
Richmond, CA. On Sunday, International Human Rights Day, dozens of concerned residents, environmental leaders, students, and families gathered in front of Richmond's oil refinery and depot, voicing their outrage against Chevron Corporation's impacts on the environmental
health and safety of residents of Pandacan, Philippines and Richmond, California. Chevron must recognize and implement corporate responsibility towards communities both locally and internationally, said protestors.
"Chevron's careless corporate practices are evident by the negative impact on the environment and health of community members in Pandacan, Philippines," said Gala King of the Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity (FACES). "Chevron Corporation is endangering the lives of the 84,000 Pandacan residents who live on the fenceline of Chevron's active oil depots. Environmental testing has found alarming levels of cancer-causing benzene and dioxins—by-products of the petrochemical industry. We are advocating for Chevron to take corporate responsibility for their actions and be a good corporate neighbor."
FACES organized the event, which took place at the finish of a 5-mile "remembrance" walk highlighting Chevron's Richmond refineries and oil depots. This event marked the launch of FACES' CAREnow! (Chevron Accountability and Responsibility for the Environment now!) Campaign created in partnership with the organized fenceline community of Pandacan, and with the support of local environmental organizations. The international campaign aims to build public awareness and to pressure Chevron Corporation, the second largest oil company in the US
and one of the largest in the world, for international accountability, clean up, and reparations.
Community speakers from Richmond—including Dr. Henry Clark, executive director of West County Toxics Coalition, Jessica Tovar, community organizer of Communities for a Better Environment, and Thongsoun Phathama, spokesperson from the Asian Pacific Environmental
Network/Laotian Organizing Project—attested to Chevron's atrocities against the human rights and health of Richmond residents, who experience adverse health effects from daily exposure to toxic emissions.
Low-income, minority residents located on the fenceline of Chevron refineries and depots are vulnerable to fires, explosions, toxic spills, and emissions including cancer-causing benzene and dioxins, and experience health impacts including asthma and cancers, especially in children. In Richmond, the Chevron refinery emits a million pounds of toxics and 500,000 pounds into the bay in an average year, making it one of the top five chemical polluters in California, according to Earth Island Institute Journal. In Pandacan, research conducted by FACES' partner United Front to Oust Oil Depots and Bay Area-based Global Community Monitor have shown alarming levels of benzene in the air.
Pandacan could also potentially be the site of the world's biggest petrochemical disaster. Explosions are a common occurrence among the petrochemical industry, FACES representatives said. In December 11, 2005, an explosion at the UK oil depots forced 2000 residents to
evacuate and produced a cloud of smoke vapor covering the southern half of London. Residents of Pandacan, Manila, who demand that the hazardous oil depot be relocated away from the densely populated district, arguably claim that if a similar explosion were to happen,
Pandacan could potentially be the site of the world's biggest petrochemical disaster.
Holding images of the Philippine Chevron oil depot and of children from the Pandacan community, who literally live, go to school, and play at the base of the immense oil depots, protestors gathered in front of Richmond's refineries and oil depots and spoke out against
the lack of corporate responsibility evidenced by Chevron on a transnational scale. FACES began signage of a thousand postcards of protest, bearing images of Pandacan's fenceline children, to be delivered to Samuel Armacost, the chair of Chevron's Board of
Directors, asking him to visit Pandacan, assess the dangers, and listen to the concerns of residents.
Explains Christine Cordero, FACES board member, "Our families live here and there. Chevron is a US-based company and we, as U.S. citizens, have the opportunity and obligation to hold them accountable to their actions. The health problems and issues affect all of our families and communities. The movement must be transnational because Chevron Corporation is transnational."
Links to Photos and Soundbite:
Photo 1: Participants walking the 5-mile route through Richmond, CA, where Chevron is endangering the health and lives of the surrounding community. Photo courtesy of Dang Nguyen. (jpg) http://www.facessolidarity.org/images/stories//carenowwalkers2.jpg
Photo 2: Image of Richmond refinery, located at the end of the walk-a-thon trail and in the background of the Press Conference. Photo courtesy of Aimee Suzara. (jpg)
Photo 3: FACES Board Chair, Galatea King, speaking at the press conference along with Richmond community leaders with the Chevron refinery in the background. FACES members share images of the community in Pandacan, Philippines, that are surrounded by a similar
environment. Photo courtesy of Dang Nguyen. (jpg)
Listen to: http://kpfa.org/archives/index.php?arch=17583 – KPFA EVENING NEWS, 6pm, DECEMBER 10 2006 (23 minutes into the hour) for coverage of the event.