Ralph Dennis comments on ISO, Benicia City Council, 17 July 2018

Public Comment – Council deliberation on whether to reconsider ISO vote of 19 June 2018

By Ralph Dennis, Benicia, June 17, 2018
Ralph Dennis, Chair, Progressive Democrats of Benicia, Member of Benicia ISO Working Group

Good evening. My name is Ralph Dennis, I’m a resident of Benicia with my wife Vicki. I am also one of the members of the ISO Working Group, and also chair of the Progressive Democrats of Benicia. The Progressive Democrats have been supporters of a Benicia ISO from the beginning of the working group. At its June meeting, PDB members voted unanimously in support of the draft Benicia ISO ordinance presented to Council on June 19.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight.

I ask that you vote tonight to reconsider your June 19 vote concerning an Industrial Safety Ordinance for Benicia.

If the desire is, in fact, to finally do something about determining what is in Benicia’s air, and to provide the City better communication with those businesses affecting Benicia’s air and safety – and that IS what I ultimately heard from the Council’s 3 votes that prevailed on June 19 …

Then, there is nothing to be gained by waiting until November.

  • Fence line monitoring, once installed, will tell us virtually nothing about what’s in the air. According to Eric Stephenson, who runs the Air District’s monitoring programs, fence line monitors are “designed for ground level monitoring” and “not for emissions that are lofted”. Meaning air borne emissions, i.e., what’s in the air.
    • So, Valero’s fence line monitoring program is limited at what it will do. Benicia needs a comprehensive, community wide monitoring program, which an ISO would provide and do it much sooner. And, the sooner we get an ISO up and running the quicker the City and community can tap into Air District resources for community monitoring efforts, something else Mr. Stephenson said is possible.
    • The Air District’s AB617 community monitoring program may include Benicia but not until 2024 at the earliest, based on its recently announced schedule.
    • And, related Air District efforts toward community monitoring are yet to be clarified and probably depend upon individual community initiative to kick start.
  • As to Better communications/Is CUPA sufficient?
    • Last week I saw two Public notices published in the Benicia Herald by the Solano Co Environmental Health Division – CUPA – for Risk Management Plans submitted by two Benicia businesses – Praxair and the City of Benicia Water Treatment Plan.
    • These plans reviewed by CUPA are required by state regulations for businesses which handle and use hazardous materials, and are now available for review by the public – for 45 days, and counting.
    • CUPA told me it plans no public meetings. And, when asked, seemed surprised at the question. Also, no copies of Plans for review on-line, or in public libraries like Contra Costa Co officials have done – we need to go to Fairfield to see the Plans.

I don’t know if anyone in the City was notified by these businesses when their Plans were being prepared or when the Plans were filed. Presumably, you saw the Water Treatment Plant’s plan. But, neither existing state regulations, nor CUPA, provided any means for review or comment – until after the fact, plans already filed and reviewed.

Is publication in a local, soon to be 3 days a week paper with limited circulation to be the extent of communication with the Benicia community? With the City?

On plans that affect the community’s air and safety?

A Benicia ISO would make the City and community partners with businesses in the development of these Plans – not a bystander, at best. And, not depend upon CUPA for communication.

I also asked CUPA whether a Risk Management Plan had been submitted by Valero:

  • Filed in December 2017, but is still under review by CUPA staff.
  • And, I don’t know if anyone at Valero gave the City a heads up last December that the Risk Management Plan was ready to be filed. Or, asked whether the City wanted to take a look at the Plan before it was filed.
  • You know, as a courtesy, or even in an effort to improve communication.
  • But, in any event, CUPA said its Public Notice will be published once review is done. Then, we the public get to see it – including the City of Benicia and its community…for a 45-day period…to provide comments…on a Plan already reviewed and, seemingly, ready for approval. Don’t expect any public meetings from CUPA, and better make sure your subscription is up to date with the newspaper.

For the sake of the community, please vote tonight to reconsider your June 19 3-2 vote, so we can get on with the business of considering an ISO for Benicia.

Thank you.

Respectfully submitted,

Ralph E. Dennis

CALL TO ACTION: Attend Benicia City Council on Tuesday, July 17!

An email from Kathy Kerridge, Benicia
[For meeting agenda and materials, see Benicia City Council to vote whether to reconsider vote on ISO.  For much more, see the Benicia Independent’s ISO page.  If you can’t attend, note below for info on where to write.]

Support a Benicia Industrial Safety Ordinance on 7/17

Kathy Kerridge, Benicia

Come support an Industrial Safety Ordinance at Benicia City Council on July 17 at 7:00 p.m.  This is a chance for the City Council to have staff review a proposed ordinance and move forward with making sure that Benicia has a seat at the table when it comes to safety.

An Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO) would ensure that Benicia has a network of air monitors, and a robust emergency response plan. Benicia is the only refinery town in the Bay Area without an ISO.

The Council will be reconsidering their decision to kick the can down the road.  Councilmembers Schwartzman, Hughes and Campbell voted at the last hearing to postpone this important decision until after the November election, while Patterson and Young wanted to move forward now.   This is a chance for them to get it right.

If you can’t come, please email (see below).

Kathy Kerridge


WHERE TO WRITE…

EMAIL THE CITY:
Mayor Elizabeth Patterson (epatterson@ci.benicia.ca.us)
Vice Mayor Steve Young (syoung@ci.benicia.ca.us)
Tom Campbell (tcampbell@ci.benicia.ca.us
Mark Hughes (Mark.Hughes@ci.benicia.ca.us)
Alan Schwartzman (aschwartzman@ci.benicia.ca.us)
City Manager Lorie Tinfow (ltinfow@ci.benicia.ca.us)
City Attorney Heather McLaughlin (Heather.McLaughlin@ci.benicia.ca.us)
Fire Chief Josh Chadwick (JChadwick@ci.benicia.ca.us)
Police Chief Erik Upson (EUpson@ci.benicia.ca.us)

MAIL / PHONE / OFFICES:
Mail to or visit City Hall: 250 East L Street, Benicia, CA 94510
Phone numbers are listed on the City’s CONTACT PAGE

SEND YOUR THOUGHTS TO THE NEWS MEDIA:

  • Benicia Herald, 820 First St, Benicia, CA 94510, or by email to the editor at beniciaherald@gmail.com
  • Vallejo Times-Herald, P.O. Box 3188, Vallejo, CA 94590, Fax: 643-0128, or by email to Editor Jack Bungart at opinion@timesheraldonline.com.
  • Benicia Independent – send to Roger at rogrmail at this URL.

POST TO SOCIAL MEDIA (some require membership):

PDB Meeting – July 12th, 7:00 PM

General meeting Thursday July 12, 7:00 pm

Dona Benicia Room of the Benicia Library

  • Speaker: Lynette Henley, California Democratic Party (CDP) Region 2 Director.  Lynette has agreed to give her insights and thoughts on the state of the California Democratic Party prior to the general elections, now that the primaries have set the candidates.
  • Agenda (download) Highlights:
    • Flip 14: voter registrations; Benicia ISO next steps.
    • Ms. Lynette Henley, Region 2 Director, CA Democratic Party/Solano Co Democratic Central Committee member: June 6 Primary results. Suggestions on how PDB can best focus its efforts on the races and candidates in the November 6th election.
    • Benicia School Board Trustee elections. Panel discussion.
    • CA-10: Jeff Denham (R) v. Josh Harder (D). PDB support for ongoing operations in Tracy, which resume July 14th, to elect Josh Harder on November 6. (See handout.)
    • PDB Endorsement committee and process for November races and candidates.
  • Invitation letter from PDB Chairperson Ralph Dennis, 7/5/18
  • Draft 6/18/18 minutes – for approval

Equity & Justice for All