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Century-Old Sludge Factory Continues Oozings Amidst Layoffs, Lawsuits

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["Richmond Oil Refinery," courtesy Curbed SF Flickr photog Charkrem]

We're not sure what to gasp about first with this story, so let's start with the largest number: 107 years, the age of the oil refinery Richmond. Of course, the equipment itself isn't that old -- it's only been around for a mere 70 years. (Practically brand new!) Chevron wants to replace the old equipment with newer machinery that, the company says, is better and cleaner. That sounds nice, but a bunch of environmentalists sued to stop the construction.

And that brings us to our next gasp: because of a lawsuit brought by environmental groups, the plant will have to suspend the retrofit and continue using the equipment from the 1930s. Sometimes it seems like the Bay Area is just one big cuckoo clock.

The folks bringing the lawsuit claim that this retrofit is actually a backdoor maneuver that would allow the refinery to import even dirtier fuels. Chevron says that simply isn't true. Who knows who's right? In the mean time, Chevron has to preform more environmental studies; and with no work to do, they may have to lay off a thousand construction workers. Stressful!

The environmental groups say that even though work has been forced to a halt, Chevron ought to keep paying the workers. Gasp! Nervy move, environmentalists. We're sure the company will get right on that.

· Judge: Chevron must halt Richmond expansion [SF Gate]
· US Refinery Status: Chevron's Richmond, Calif. Project Stopped [Wall Street Journal]
· Chevron Using 1930s-Era Equipment Amid Permit Dispute [Bloomberg]