Richmond to Sue Chevron Over Refinery Fire

After months of trying to reach a settlement with Chevron, the city of Richmond says it will sue the company over last year's refinery fire.

The mayor of Richmond has confirmed the city will file a lawsuit against Chevron Friday morning.

Richmond city leaders say the fire has had a huge impact on the community.

Not only did it send 15,000 people to the hospital, city leaders say it cost Richmond millions of dollars in emergency response and caused property values to plummet.

The mayor says the city has an obligation to take legal action.

"We want to make it clear that we the people of Richmond and the city council as a whole community are making sure Chevron is held accountable for the harm they have done to us as a city and a community," Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said.

The details of the lawsuit are not yet being released but the city will hold a press conference Friday morning.

Chevron says the city's decision to sue is a waste of the Richmond's resources.

"We believe the decision to pursue such a suit is a waste of the City’s resources and yet another example of its failed leadership," Chevron spokesperson Melissa Ritchie said in an e-mail statement.

City councilman Tom Butt says Richmond has seen property values plummet, costing the city and schools millions in property tax revenues, but he says the lawsuit is about more than just money.

"It's wanting to have some assurances that Chevron has taken the lessons learned to heart and that they have changed their culture of safety at the refinery, and the risk in the future is going to be lower than it was in the past," Butt said.

Community activists say they are glad the city is finally taking action. They say hundreds will march to the gates of the refinery this weekend to mark the one-year anniversary of what many consider one of the worst disasters Richmond has ever seen

"We believe Chevron not only owes Richmond an apology, but a significant amount of cash investment so we can help turn our community around," said Andres Soto, who represents Communities for a Better Environment.

Contact Us