by Rachel Swan
In a tweet this morning local non-profit The Ella Baker Center lamented yesterday's fire at the Chevron Oil Refinery in Richmond, which caused no fatalaties but threatens the health of thousands who live in the East Bay suburb, and may disrupt fuel supply chains along the West Coast. "It's heartbreaking we don't see how toxic gas refineries are until disaster strikes," the tweet declared, adding that more than 25,000 people live within 3 miles of the refinery, an area that also includes two public housing projects.
A statement from Doctors Medical Center corroborated that sentiment, indicating that 181 residents were admitted between 7 p.m. last night and 8 a.m. today, with symptoms ranging from eye irritation to respiratory problems. A steady stream of individuals have come in throughout the morning — a statement by Sierra Club spokesman Eddie Scher says that 350 people have been admitted to area hospitals for respiratory issues and vomiting. "We expect, and are prepared for, a high demand at the hospital throughout the day," DMC assured in its press materials.
Thus far, most people have been released after being seen, though one Chevron employee was treated at an on-site clinic for burns, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Healthcare professionals advise concerned residents to follow guidelines and updates from Contra Costa Health Services. Chevron will host a community meeting tonight, 6 p.m., at Richmond Memorial Auditorium (403 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond).