Williams: ‘We need & deserve answers’

Dear Editor,

I’m wondering why there seems to be an absense of activism in Martinez, particularly when it comes to the environment. Why is it so many rally behind efforts to turn a golf course into “Open Space,” but at the same time, shake hands with the local refineries and congratulate them on being some of Martinez’s “best residents”?

The refineries are hugely responsible for polluting our water and air, and contribute, comparitively, so very little to our city. Yes, Shell has their programs that help out the community, and they donate a lot during the Run for Education. Tesoro also recently made extremely rare appearances to donate to the school board and homelessness causes. But overall, their contributions to our city are just a drop in the bucket. They rake in trillions of dollars on our very soil, and don’t even so much as pay property taxes to the City of Martinez – even when shipping and filling tanker after tanker through local waters.

How do they get away with this, and why do they have such a pristine local image? One can’t even bring up the subject of the nasty refineries without people jumping on them about how great Shell is. Yeah, right!

How many stories of rare brain cancers do we need to read about before we make a connection to the refineries? How many nights must we wake up during the cool evenings of Spring and Fall (when our windows are open) because we’re gasping for clean air, because one of the refineries has released some smelly, nasty chemical that of course they tell us is “safe”? When ash rains down on our houses, we get a free car wash (thanks, Shell). When clouds of toxic air decend on our children playing at the baseball fields, we get a cover-up story, not an apology or help with our medical bills.

Shell puts on a great campaign about “reducing green house gasses,” but all they’re doing is shifting their carbon footprint from the Bay Area to some other poor place in the world. Guess what? That’s not how carbon footprints work!

Don’t let their “community liaisons” fool you – Shell is the most evil company in the world, with a clear track record available to anyone who would bother to look it up. Countless lives and countless environments have been killed by Shell Oil, and they’ve been slowly grinding away, along with Tesoro, Valero and others, at our very shores. The Martinez Marina and waterfront area is so filthy, it’s no wonder people don’t play, swim, paddleboard or kayak near our shores. Walk out to the shallows and watch the oil burble from the earth. Or take a deep breath – if you still can – and compare it to the air elsewhere.
How much more should we have to take in exchange for chump change and a good line about their community service?

I want answers from Shell and Tesoro, from Valero and Chevron and all the others that line the Carquinez Straight.

Please help Martinez figure out what’s in our air, what’s in our water. Are the children safe? Why isn’t Shell paying more taxes when they sit right in our town? We need and deserve answers!

– Rod Williams

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