I will start this response by confirming that we will make the implementation of the Richmond Community Air Monitoring Program a high priority. Having said that, the “cover your tail” letter from Chevron regarding the program is absolutely misleading.
The second paragraph in the letter states that “elements of the Richmond Community Air Monitoring Program remain incomplete,” which is true. The underlying reasons for the elapsed time in completing this project is not for lack of an approved work plan, as implied in Jeff Hartwig’s letter; it is for lack of certainty regarding where the community air monitoring stations will be installed, and due to technical issues associated with the sites that were initially proposed by Chevron. When Jeff Hartwig transmitted to me the June 29th letter, he acknowledged, “I understand that this (review and approval of the work plan) may require the work plan be amended once the final monitoring sites(s) have been approved…” In short, the work plan submitted by Chevron has not been approved because it is not complete, as Mr. Hartwig acknowledges.
The finger pointing attitude in the letter is insulting. We have worked collegially with Chevron staff to try to get this done. This includes approving the equipment to be used for the fence line monitoring system within several days of submittal of the work plan because of the long lead time for ordering this equipment. This was only after reviewing with a technical consultant that the proposed equipment is “state-of-the-art.”
We have also continued to work with Chevron on the community sites:
- We have settled on the North Richmond Fire station after discussing with them the pros and cons of alternative locations. (To imply that they were just waiting for a site access agreement to proceed is absurd.)
- We have been patient with them as they finalized a site at Atchison Village (the site was not approved as part of the work plan because it had unresolved power supply issues as described in Mr. Hartwig’s letter). This is still not complete. Mr. Hartwig seems to indicate that if only the work plan were approved then electrical power would magically appear at the necessary location. Our feeling is that they should resolve the electrical issues at least to the extent that we know that their proposed site is technically feasible before providing an approval.
- It was only within the last few weeks, that Chevron has decided on (at least) their third possibility for a Point Richmond site. A site at Washington Elementary is now in the works, although I understand that Chevron does not yet have permission to install the equipment on their campus. This can hardly be the result of not having an approved work plan, rather the lack of Chevron doing any technical research on their proposed sites before submitting a work plan.
It should also be noted that the work plan needs to have an ongoing monitoring program to go with it. When I approved purchase of their equipment back in November of 2012, I specifically indicated that this needed to be developed.
In sum, Chevron seems to want us to approve any work plan that they drop in front of us whether or not it is technically feasible. I am perfectly willing to proceed ahead, evaluating options as we go (which is what we have been doing) in the belief that this will get the project done more quickly. However, to imply that they have somehow been in a holding pattern on this project is disingenuous at best.
Unlike Chevron staff, I will take full responsibility for this project not proceeding in a timely manner, and I will navigate Chevron’s petty, paper-pushing bureaucracy to see to it that it gets done.
In a more substantive vein, staff from the City Manager’s office met with staff from Chevron this past Thursday to review the status of the project and getting it moving more quickly to completion. This included discussions about the draft work plan, operation and maintenance process and procedures, finalizing the site access agreement for the North Richmond location, reviewing the specific proposed location for the Washington Elementary School site, and ongoing reporting procedures. I understand that good progress was made on all of these issues.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or require any additional information.
City of Richmond
450 Civic Center Plaza
Richmond, California 94804