Community meeting about Emergency Notification

Small SirenA community meeting to discuss the response to the recent coker fire at Phillips 66 has been announced. Refinery managers and county response officials will be on hand to take questions.

The Crockett Improvement Association will be sponsoring a Community Meeting at the Crockett Community Center on Tuesday, September 8, at 7:00 PM. Come learn about the CAER – Community Alert System; how it works and what you need to do to be safe and keep your loved ones safe in an emergency. The recent fire at Phillips 66 will be discussed. Representatives of the CAER and other agencies will be on hand. This meeting is open to citizens of Crockett, Port Costa, Tormey and Rodeo. –

Last night there was a CAP meeting at the refinery with discussion about the cause of the fire, and the response to it.  But first, some background. The “CAP” or community advisory panel is supposed to be designed as an interface with the community. If you happen to know somebody on the panel (and they are quite selective in determining who is panelist worthy), you might be able to find out what was discussed (or served for dinner), but otherwise, not so much. Here’s a link to the agenda and minutes page that I finally found by searching the site. There is no link to it from their CAP page or anywhere else I looked.  If you visit that link you will notice that the last set of minutes is from February and the last agenda is from April. So much for their “Transparency and Accountability”. But I digress…

At last night’s meeting my source tells me that refinery management claimed they didn’t call the “sensitive receptor list” when sounding the level 2 alert (meaning some offsite consequences likely) because it was deemed unnecessary, as someone at the refinery determined the fire was going to burn itself out anyway.  That is their excuse.

As I understand it, when a level 2 alert is activated, the mandated protocol at the refinery is to immediately activate the call system. There is no time to capitulate. It is not a debatable issue then or at this point whether or not the call system activation was necessary. Waiting is not an option. The refinery failed to use it when the sour water tank exploded, when it was overwhelmingly necessary. In hind sight, perhaps this time it wasn’t needed, but the lack of implementing it in a timely manner again shows the system doesn’t work. In fact, on that Sunday, nobody present at the refinery had the knowledge to activate the system.  The refinery, again, does not hold itself accountable.

The community is largely unaware of the refinery’s warning system based on comments I’ve seen on social media, and apparently the management and workers at the refinery are equally naive. I propose refinery managers do the following immediately:

  1. Let the public know the system exists through community outreach.
  2.  Allow signups on their and the county’s website.
  3. Test the system.
  4. Train the operators and managers how and when to use it.

See you at the meeting I hope.


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