The reliance of fossil fuels can cause oil spills that have detrimental effects to human health and the environment. An oil spill that occurred on February 9th, 2021 has been estimated to have released more than 600 gallons of oil from a Richmond refinery into the San Francisco Bay. This particular spill is one of many environmental and public health hazards that the Richmond refinery has produced.
Consequently, the spill has caused residents in the city to rethink relations with Chevron and the Richmond refinery which is one of California's largest polluters. Community members around the refinery are frightened knowing that the oil spill is toxic to their health and the environment around them.
The Chevron oil spill disproportionately impacts 80% of Richmond’s residents who are people of color and over the years the EPA has slapped the refinery with 147 formal enforcement actions to support environmental justice.
To clarify, communities living near the Richmond refinery are more than likely to develop asthma and health problems compared to other counties in the area. Therefore it is important to seek environmental justice for communities of color who face ongoing environmental racism from polluters such as the Richmond refinery and Chevron. Oil spills also generate acute effects for marine life when ingested and chronic effects to the environment that are still unknown by scientists today.
It is evident that San Francisco communities are realizing that the dependence on fossil fuels hurt people and the environment. Gayle McLaughlin who had been part of the Green party is putting together a task force to tackle how the city of San Francisco can push Chevron out. All in all, forcing Chevron out of the Richmond refinery can be a long process. Thus, it is key to note that renewable energy may be the only plausible solution to derail society and the environment's vulnerability to oil spills.