Contra Costa County surveys residents about Community Warning System

Contra Costa County surveys residents about Community Warning System
Flaring visible at Chevron's Richmond Refinery in November triggered an activation of the Community Warning System, alerting residents to a "level 1 incident." Photo/Linda Hemmila

Contra Costa Health is asking residents to complete a survey about what they think of the county's Community Warning System and what improvements they would like to see in the system.

The CWS is a community notification system that alerts residents about emergencies affecting public health or safety, including those from refineries and large chemical manufacturing facilities throughout Contra Costa County.

The online survey, available on the CWS page at, seeks input from the community about their familiarity with the system, whether residents subscribe, and what they think about the service.

The CWS sends free phone calls, texts, and emails to those who sign up at Users have subscription options, including whether to receive alerts only from certain areas of Contra Costa County or only about specific facilities.

Significant flaring seen at Chevron Refinery
Last update: November 27, 2023 9:10 pm Flaring activity at Chevron’s Richmond Refinery has now stopped, according to spokesperson Caitlin Powell. “Our workforce is still working to safely recover operations impacted from the earlier loss of power. While we hope to avoid it, intermittent flaring is a possibility as

The CWS was designed for emergency use and for when a facility reports an unexpected release, such as an incident in November at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond when a release led to smoke and visible flaring at the facility.

The county’s Hazardous Materials Incident Notification Policy requires specified facilities, including all the county’s refineries, to report to the CWS whenever there is a release or threatened release of hazardous material or flaring.

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Last update: December 8, 2023, 4:30 p.m. The Richmond City Council will hold an emergency meeting next week to discuss an “unbearable smell” that has reportedly blanketed the area surrounding the wastewater treatment plant in Point Richmond. According to a statement by Bay Area Air Quality Management District,
Bay Area Air Quality Management investigates Chevron flare
A statement issued by Bay Area Air Quality Tuesday morning said they are currently investigating a level one incident that occurred at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond Monday afternoon, which led to unplanned flaring and smoke visible to many around the Bay Area. “On November 28, 2023, at 8:00

According to Contra Costa Health, the majority of these are “Level 1” incidents and are investigated by CCH’s Hazardous Materials Response Team but are not subject to a community alert. So far this year, the CWS has received 227 reported Level 1 alerts from industrial facilities.

On social media, Richmond residents have been critical of the CWS, complaining the alerts are slow to inform the community.

The survey is planned to continue through January 12, 2024, and CCH will share the results publicly and with the Ad Hoc Committee. For details about the CWS and its response levels, visit the CWS page at

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