West County Toxics Coalition

                                                                                         Empowering Communities for Environmental Justice



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Our organization and its supporters are committed to improving the plight of the disenfranchised residents of West County.  We have struggled throughout the years to include and represent the interests of the underrepresented and disenfranchised communities that often have no representation on city and county governmental bodies that impact their lives.  The West County Toxics Coalition has remained rooted in the community through its structure and organizational practices that effectively utilize local leadership.


West County Toxics is a former 20 year member of the Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Commission.


We strive to achieve environmental justice in West County by:



Mobilized thousands of residents to stop the Chevron Expansion. The case is on appeal in Superior Court, and a decision is expected in April 2009.


Monitoring flare emissions by refineries.  West County Toxics Coalition was a major force in getting the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to finally conduct a Flare Study at refineries.  The study has revealed that the amount of emissions from flares is possibly twenty times higher than previously stated.  The air district plans to adopt a rule that would require flare monitoring at refineries that will record the amounts of emissions released and the type of emissions.  This information will result in the air district adopting another rule that would require control measures for flares that would result in the emissions being recycled back into the process or used for another purpose, but not released into to the atmosphere exposing sensitive populations of children with asthma and seniors.

Participating in state EPA committee.  West County Toxics Coalition continues to serve on the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee.  This committee is developing the Environmental Justice Strategy for the State of California that will stop the ongoing disproportionate impact from chemical pollutants that low-income communities of color are exposed and impacted. 

Bringing low-income people of color into the leadership of the West County toxics movement.  The mainstream environmental movement traditionally has been predominated by middle and upper class constituencies, leaving no voice or power to the low-income and minority residents whose neighborhoods often face the greatest toxics threat.

Compelling industry to negotiate directly with citizens.  As WCTC succeeds in its objective to sign collective bargaining agreements with the management of chemical polluters and bar the setting of hazardous waste facilities, it will revolutionize the way citizens and industries resolve environmental problems.

Building a sustainable, grassroots membership organization in West County.  Through the work of WCTC, residents have gained a political voice and are realizing their potential when organized.

WCTC accomplishments during the past few years cover a broad spectrum of community events such as:

  1. 2007 - Richmond Environmental Justice and Health Leadership Academy - In its first year the Academy trained 10 youth.

  2. July, 2007 - Crematorium loses in 9-0 Richmond City Council vote  West County Toxics Coalition led the organizing drive to stop the sitting of the Apollo crematorium in the North Richmond community near a daycare center and community park. The crematorium would have released mercury emissions and dead body ashes over the primarily black and Latino  residents in North Richmond. Mercury is a neurological toxin that effects children learning ability. The Richmond City Council voted 9 to 0 against the Crematorium.

  3. We held community meetings for residents in the Richmond area for input on the Richmond Industry Safety Ordinance.  The Ordinance was adopted in November 2001, and helped reduced the risk to residents from industrial operations and resulted in a healthier environment.

  4. Our work with CAL/FED continues through 2002 to address issues in environmental justice, and water policy management and water policy, which relates to health of residents in low-income communities of color that WCTC serves.  CAL/FED is a coalition of federal and state water management policy agencies.

  5. We were successful in 2001 in getting the Bay Area Quality Management District Resource Board and the EPA to install a dioxin monitor in the low-income North Richmond area.  Residents in this area are concerned about dioxin exposure from industrial sources and possible health related problems.

  6. We were involved in the state’s energy policy debate related to the health concerns of low-income residents to ensure that new energy development in the state includes renewable energy, like solar and wind energy, and that low-income communities of color, particularly, will not continue to be disproportionately impacted and targeted for citing dirty energy polluting plants.

  7. In March of 1999, the new Center for Health opened in North Richmond serving 3,000 residents.  The 1.8 million-dollar facility grew out of a settlement won over General Chemical Plant toxic spill.  The WCTC was instrumental in negotiating with officials to push along Center development, and earned a permanent seat on the Center’s Board of Directors.

  8. We are an integral part of the delegation that got the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) to adopt new regulations on August 4, 1999, pledging to work to improve air quality in communities that are disproportionately affected by pollution.  The communities tend to have large concentrations of poor and minority residents.

  9. One of our greatest victories to date is the closure of the Chevron incinerator.  This is a result of a six-year battle between Chevron, WCTC, and other environmental groups.  The incinerator spews a known carcinogen, Methylene Chloride and Dioxins into the North Richmond area, which includes Peres Elementary School, exposing children to serious chemical hazards.  The WCTC continues to push for relocation assistance to union workers who were laid off in addition to monitoring the site and to make sure the site is properly cleaned-up.

  10. We mobilized thousands of residents from 1989 to 1994, in response to major chemical accidents by the Chevron Oil refinery and the General Chemical plant to demand compensation, prevention of future accidents, and remediation of existing systems.

  11. August 3, 2013, mobilized over 3,000 people to march on the Chevron Refinery commemorating the August 6, 2013 fire and explosion that sent over 15,000 people to local hospitals.

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