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Chevron Appeals to State Court to Continue its Retrofit Project

Chevron appeals to state court to continue its retrofit project

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Posted: 07/20/2009 11:04:08 AM PDT

Updated: 07/20/2009 11:13:07 AM PDT



Chevron is appealing a court ruling that halted construction at its Richmond refinery in the hopes of getting the project back on track.

The oil company filed its appeal this morning in state court.

"We believe the city correctly approved the project and that its construction and operation should be allowed to proceed," refinery manager Mike Coyle said.

More than 1,000 workers were laid off from the project over the past two weeks. One hundred workers remain to demobilize the construction site, as allowed under a court ruling last month by Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Barbara Zuniga.

Chevron secured permits last fall for its plan to replace its hydrogen plant, power plant and reformer to refine a wider range of crude that contains more sulfur. Company representatives said the project would make the refinery safer and more efficient.

But environmental groups said the upgrades would enable to refinery to process heavier crude that could increase pollution. The West County Toxics Coalition, Communities for a Better Environment and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network sued the city and Chevron in September, claiming the environmental impact report did not analyze all the impacts.

Zuniga sided with the environmental groups, ruling the environmental report is vague and must be clarified before construction can continue. She ordered project permits be set aside, effectively halting construction July 1.