Tell us about your role at Chevron?
I am an Environmental Field Coordinator in the Health, Environment and Safety group. My role focusses on the regulatory compliance for air, water and waste. I also lead the Refinery Odor Management Team. We provide Chevron with a coherent, effective and on-going strategy and framework for minimizing the impact of odors from refinery operations on
the local community.
Tell us about your work with the Odor Team?
First, we want people to know that the refinery has many safeguards and process controls in place to prevent odors from impacting our neighbors. To help address concerns that do arise, we maintain a hotline (510-242-2127) that is staffed 24 hours a day. Every complaint is investigated even if it may not be related to our operations. If you have a concern about an odor, give us a call so we can promptly investigate it and if wanted, report back to you. Our approach to effective odor management includes opportunities for community engagement and we include resident concerns into our odor minimization plans.
What is the process when the refinery receives an odor complaint?
When a call comes in, a Field Representative from the refinery will go directly to the location, as soon as possible, and attempt to identify the odor source. The Field Representative will initiate an investigation which may include taking air samples, looking at weather conditions, using their own sense of smell and working with key operational and management personnel to determine if and refinery activity maybe contributing to the odor.
Tell us more about the use of technology in your work.
There are a variety of operational and monitoring programs in place at the refinery to identify and reduce emissions of odorous substances. We use many different tools and technologies to help determine the odor source. If an air sample is collected, it will be taken back to our laboratory for analysis. Our lab technicians are able to identify compounds present. We also look at data from refinery ground level and fenceline monitors and air monitoring stations located in the community. All of this allows us to use science to more precisely identify if an odor is coming from the refinery.
What other factors impact odors?
The refinery operates in an urban area where there are many potential odor sources, including freeways, various industries, train yards, water treatment facilities, composting and landfill operations, and commercial activity such painting, which surrounds nearby residential housing. Humans can detect certain odorous gases at levels far below the capability of most testing instrumentation and can also be very subjective. Some people may even have higher sensitivity than others.
Is there a misconception about Chevron that you would like to correct?
I believe that people don’t understand how much we care about the environment. We live and work in the same community and environment as all Richmond residents. Through my work, I know just how much goes into our systems to keep the environment safe and people protected. Our day to day procedures are extensive and help ensure there we operate safely, reliably and in an environmentally responsible way.
What else would you like the community to know?
The Odor Team is a resource for the community. We want to hear from the community. Having more first-hand data about what people in the community are experiencing enables us to better understand our operations, which is an important factor in helping us mitigate any odor impact to our neighbors.