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 cchealth.org, 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 cwsalerts.com. Users have subscription options, including whether to receive alerts only from certain areas of Contra Costa County or only about specific facilities.
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.
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 cchealth.org.
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