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Our Mission

Empower the community through education and advocacy

Improve industrial safety and health practices in Benicia

Promote community involvement in decision-making

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Our Recommendations

BISHO Working Group: March 7, 2024 

Recommended Scope of Baseline Content for a Model Benicia Industrial Safety & Health Ordinance  ["BISHO"]

The  purposes of an industrial safety ordinance, and what an ISO consists of, to give guidance and enable  more informed discussions during the public process to develop the BISHO ["Ordinance"]. To fulfill the  City Council's aim, expressed on Dec.19th, 2023, a "model BISHO" will be drafted that would be unique  in the Bay Area. The BISHO must conform to and reflect the Benicia General Plan's overarching principle  of sustainability, resilience, and protections for community health and safety expressed in the Plan's  goals and policies. 

The final Draft BISHO presented for adoption to our city council must stand, now and in the future, as  an advanced, e"ective, enforceable oversight tool for local government and the public, with the primary  aim to improve community safety and health in relation to operational and management performance  and safety culture practices at the Valero Benicia Refinery and other major polluting industrial facilities  located within Benicia’s jurisdiction. 

Over the past years, evidence of ongoing numbers of upsets, emissions releases, and accidents  occurring at Bay Area refineries, including Valero, indicates obvious need for revisions to existing ISOs, and for Benicia to adopt a model BISHO—one that reflects principles of transparency and  ensures facilities' compliance with all applicable state laws and those requirements of the BISHO.  

The BISHO should represent the most stringent, effective level of local public oversight legally  permissible, AND, represent advancement in understanding, especially polluting facilities’ contribution  to global climate change and to local/regional public health impacts owing to chronic, cumulative low  level exposures to a mix of toxic air emissions and also contamination of our waterways.  

The draft BISHO's baseline content, that of an advanced model ordinance, would incorporate:  — latest requirements and updated programs of the ISOs of Contra Costa County ["CCC-ISO"] and   the City of Richmond ["RISO"];  

 — proposed changes and revisions to California's "Accidental Release Prevention Program-4"  ["CalARP- Program 4"]; 

— program to expand independent, community-based air monitoring and real-time reporting  capacity throughout the city; 

 — robust public role in oversight and implementation of the BISHO, ensuring regulatory   compliance with all applicable laws and those additional requirements of the BISHO. 


About "CalARP-Program 4": 

This law, adopted in 2017, as designed through Cal-EPA, incorporates the original elements and  requirements of the CCC-ISO and RISO, which were adopted in 1999 and 2000 respectively. It includes  updates of those ISOs through 2014. The purpose of CalARP-Program 4 is to prevent and greatly reduce  facility accidents, to best protect workers and communities. CalARP Program 4 governs all refineries in  the state as well as other similarly regulated major polluting industrial facilities, for example chem  industries processing regulated hazardous materials. Program 4 is administered by a county’s  “CUPA”, the “Certified, Unified Program Agency” under auspices of a county’s health services department’s hazardous materials division. 

Currently, there are proposed changes to Program 4 and to the CCC-ISO and RISO.  The BISHO will also be an ordinance that evolves through time. Covered facilities operating under a  jurisdiction’s ISO are encouraged to cooperate with city and county governments to benefit the safety of  their work forces and residents of surrounding neighborhoods and communities. They are to regard all  legally mandated requirements as enforceable, with suitable penalties applied for non-compliance.

Benicia’s Ordinance must provide for transparent, objective, independent verification of all required  reports—proof of industries’ claims of improved operational performance for ALL processing units at  each covered facility. Special focus of enforcement would be on regulatory compliance.  

A model BISHO will provide new protocols for overseeing and auditing emissions monitoring and data  reporting for accuracy, and to improve public messaging during incidents, and provide for discretionary  performance auditing with active public participation in those oversight activities.  


Below is a list of elements and requirements of the CCC-ISO and RISO that are incorporated by Cal ARP  Program 4, with the addition of updates. Our model draft BISHO would provide mechanisms to oversee  compliance with CalARP Program 4, working together with the Solano CUPA, and incorporate CCC-ISO  

and RISO updates requiring that ALL processing units of the refinery and other covered facilities be  governed by Cal-ARP program 4:  

Those elements with double asterisks ** represent select specific concerns of the Benicia community  to be addressed. 

a) Identify and require a more extensive list of chemicals and hazardous materials to be covered; 

b) Require annual performance reviews with audits, at least every 3 years, of ALL facility processing  units;  

c) Require identification and analyses of the “human factor”; management and employee practices in  assessing root causes of accidents, including analyses of “near misses”;  

d) Promote and require “industrial best practices” that are proven eYective; 

e) Require, where feasible, installation of “inherently safer systems” as defined and recommended by  the US Chemical Safety Board;  

f) Ensure timely solutions to problems; provide follow-up audits to ensure eYectiveness and  management of changes [“MOC”];  

g) Improve operational, maintenance and management protocols as called for, with public review of  any proposed changes;  

h) Provide for objective, independent discretionary performance/safety audits of facility operations and  management as deemed necessary by engineering experts, evidenced by persistent problems; 

i) Institute Safety Culture, Risk Management, and Emergency Response programs with community input, [see “n” below] whenever changes to those programs are proposed; 

j) ** Audit compliance with Bay Area Air Quality Management District regulations, especially   Regulation 12-Rule 15, the Emissions Tracking Rule;  

k) ** Conduct community-wide Health Risk Assessment by independent public health experts; 

l) ** Ensure timely, effective maintenance of ALL facilities’ processing units to greatly reduce air  emissions, flaring, and leakages; 

m) ** Provide for consistently reliable, advanced air monitoring instruments throughout the Benicia  community, to be networked and connected through the Benicia Fire Department, with   independent contractor maintaining and operating systems with internal auto-calibration and   alert capabilities when detections indicate elevated emissions. 


n) ** Provide for an on-going, robust oversight role for the public in administering and implementing the   BISHO; establish a public permanent, standing representative oversight committee to work   cooperatively with the Benicia Fire Department and report to the city council.

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