Hundreds of community members got an up-close view of Chevron Richmond at Community Tour Day on Saturday, Oct. 28.
During the six-hour-long event, attendees had the opportunity to go on an hour-long bus tour of the refinery and to visit information booths manned by Chevron Richmond employees eager to share their work.
About 500 Bay Area neighbors participated in the day long event. Students from the Culinary Arts Academy of Contra Costa College served up free lunches while community members learned about the complex science and processes of oil refining, among related topics.
This year’s event marked a post-pandemic comeback for the event which is typically held on an annual basis. Chelsea Mercer was particularly excited for its return. A Human Resources Manager for Chevron Richmond, Mercer is also a Richmond resident. She said she relishes the opportunity to share her work with her neighbors.
“It’s really important for me to be part of Community Tour Day,” Mercer said. “I love to see all the families come. The kids are so excited to be here. This lets us share a bit of our world with them.”
While the employee-led bus tour provided a broad view of Chevron Richmond’s 2,900-acre campus and its processes, information booths offered residents the opportunity to receive more detailed information and to ask questions directly from the experts.
Some employees, like Operations Manager Justin Fehr, were tasked with greeting people and answering their questions as they walked from booth to booth. He said he received ample interest from visitors about Chevron’s energy transition initiatives, but added that many people simply wanted to know the basics on what products are made in Richmond.
“A lot of people think we’re all about gasoline,” Fehr said. “That’s a pretty common product. We also make jet fuel, diesel fuel, and we make lubricants that go into rotating equipment in cars. There’s also a lot that goes into making those fuels. So we get to educate people about that.”
In fact, Chevron Richmond makes about 60 percent of the jet fuel for Bay Area airports, about 20 percent of the gasoline produced in the Bay Area, and the only lubricating base oils on the West Coast.
Community Tour Day also offered Chevron Richmond employees a chance to inform the community about their robust safety and inspection processes.
Pipeline inspector Omar Rodriguez explained how ultrasonic technology, robots and drones are used to inspect the integrity of pipelines and other facilities, particularly in areas that are difficult to reach or unsafe for humans.
Meanwhile, Learning and Development Manager Zack Steiner showed community members a model of a floating roof tank designed to prevent the release of vapors.
Neighbors were reminded about, or introduced to, Chevron’s fenceline air monitoring program. They were encouraged to go online to check near-to-real time air quality in their neighborhood at any time at richmondairmonitoring.org.
“We have open path monitors which are using laser technology, ultraviolent, and infrared, to monitor the ambient air along three paths in the Refinery,” explained Luke Honnen, Environmental Air Specialist. “We also have ground level monitors that take samples at the ground level, and we also have three air monitors in the community.”
Community Tour Day offered fun activities for kids, too. The Chevron STEM Zone provided families an interactive way to experience how these skills are applied to real-world tasks. One exhibit showed how thermal imaging is used to detect safety issues, while another had visitors using injection molding technology to create keychains.
Employees explained how petroleum products do more than fuel our cars and homes – how they also make the feedstocks used to manufacture the chemicals, plastics and rubbers that are in nearly everything we use, from life-saving medical devices to everyday products like tires, toys and keychains.
Kids also enjoyed climbing into the driver’s seat of a Chevron Richmond fire engine, which is always a favorite activity of firefighters. Among them was Deputy Fire Chief Scott Joseph, who has worked for Chevron for nearly 26 years, beginning in operations and progressing his way to his current position. Deputy Joseph says Community Tour Day never gets old.
“It’s a chance to see something you don’t normally get a chance to see, and we love the opportunity to show them,” Deputy Joseph said. “We love giving back and being part of the community.”