January 22, 2008

SF Bay PSR Steering Committee Member Jeff Ritterman published a letter (click link to see our blog reprint) on January 7th responding to Chevron’s proposed expansion to refine dirtier grades of crude oil, and voicing concern about its effects on public health and climate change.

Chevron responded with a letter of its own own (read it here).

Let’s have a look at Dr. Ritterman’s counter-response which answers the challenge with documented evidence, and will hopefully appear in print shortly.

Dear Dora and other editors,

Today, 1/19/08, Chevron external affairs manager, Dean O’Hair was given space on Your Turn, Reader Respond to The Times, in which he claims that my letter of January 7th “Tell Chevron not to refine dirtier oil” contained incorrect information about the project.His letter is entitled “Facts on Chevron Project”.

In the interest of fairness I would like to offer the following response:

Chevron continues to publicize its proposed expansion or upgrade as good for the Richmond community.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), the document which explains to the public the effects on the community, states that the upgrade will result in:

a “significant and unavoidable impact” from the increase in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs); an expected yearly increase of 12.2 tons of particulate matter (PM); and a yearly increase of 100.4 tons of carbon monoxide (CO).

In addition, the upgrade “could cause increases in the frequency and or magnitude of flaring events at the refinery.”

VOCs cause asthma and other lung injury.Flaring increases VOCs. Chuck McKetney, MPH, Ph D, and director of Contra Costa County ’s Community Health Assessment referred to asthma in Richmond as “an epidemic” (SF Chronicle Feb. 11, 2003).

PM increases result in higher death rates.Increases in CO cause increases in hospitalizations for heart disease.

Could Chevron please explain how more VOCs, PM, CO and flaring will help the Richmond community?

Jeff Ritterman, M.D.

Richmond, Ca

The medical references:

VOCs, ozone, asthma, lung injury:

Peel JL et al. Ambient Air Pollution and Respiratory Emergency Department Visits. Epidemiology 2005 16:164-74.

Trasande L, Thurston GD. The Role of Air Pollution and Other Pediatric Morbidities. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2005 115:689-99.

Arjomandi M et al. Repeated Exposure to Ozone Increases Alveolar Macrophages into Asthmatic Airways. American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine. 2005 172: 427-32.

Byrd RS, Joad JP. Urban Asthma. Current Opinions in Pulmonary Medicine. 2006 12:68-74.).

Particulate matter and all cause mortality:

Samet et al. Fine Particulate Air Pollution and Mortality in 20 U.S. Cities 1987-1994.New England Journal of Medicine 2000 343:1742-1749

Carbon monoxide and heart disease:

Mann et al. Air Pollution and Hospital Admissions for Ischemic Heart Disease in Persons with Congestive Heart Failure or Arrhythmia. Environmental Health Perspectives 2002 110: 1247-1252