By Katherine Tam
Richmond city officials slammed a restriction on the crude the Chevron refinery can process if it upgrades its equipment, a major provision that they say will ease public concerns over increased pollution and health risks.
The city's five-member Planning Commission made the decision around 12:15 a.m. Friday after more than five hours of public testimony and deliberation.
"Let's try something a bit groundbreaking and see if it flies," Commissioner Charles Duncan said. "The health of the community is at stake."
Chevron wants to expand its 3,000-acre refinery on Richmond's waterfront to add a new power plant and crude oil refining facility. The material processed at the new facility would have higher contents of sulfur and other impurities, city officials said.
The commission also approved an environmental impact report for the project, a move that a Chevron spokesman described as significant.
Richmond's Planning Commission voted 3-2 Friday for a "comprehensive crude cap" as part of Chevron's proposed expansion of its waterfront oil refinery. Commissioners will meet later this month to discuss details of the cap.
Environmental groups had called for the restrictions to stop Chevron from processing dirtier crude oil that could increase air pollution and harm the health of residents who live near the refinery.
Chevron officials say the modernization project will reduce pollution and won't increase greenhouse gas emissions.
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