Another new voice was Gayle McLaughlin the former mayor of Richmond, whose recent experience is chillingly relevant to San Pedro.

“Rancho LPG stores 25 million gallons of very explosive and flammable propane and butane gases and there’s no way possible to make these tanks safe,” McLaughlin said. “I speak from some experience. I was serving as mayor of Richmond, Calif. when in August 2012, the local Chevron refinery exploded, and burned for many hours, sending 15,000 people to local hospitals; 19 Chevron refinery workers barely escaped with their lives.

“Years before the fire, Chevron ignored safety demands from the people in city government of Richmond. They gave the same type of empty reassurances that the good people of San Pedro continue to receive from Rancho LPG — ‘It’s all fine and safe.’ Well, after the refinery explosion, Chevron pleaded no contest to criminal neglect  and was mandated to initiate repairs for $25 million, mostly to replace corroded pipes they had refused to fix until now.”

The moral was obvious, she continued.

“It’s all too clear that corporations put profits before people, and companies like Chevron and Rancho LPG gamble with the safety and wellbeing of the community,” McLaughlin said. “Furthermore, too often our regulatory agencies have allowed and enabled these companies to do this gambling at our expense. The fact that other agencies have acted irresponsibly and granted permits to Rancho, and are allowing this disaster in the making does not relieve you, Lt. Gov. Newsom and members of the commission, of your responsibility to protect the lives of the people of California. Use the powers bestowed on you by the state of California to protect the people of California.”


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