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Topics > Reducing Health Disparities Initiative > What We Are Doing > Hazmat Working on Environmental Justice Issues

Hazmat Working on Environmental Justice Issues

Left to right; Randy Sawyer, Maria Duazo (front), and Cho Nai Cheung.

Our Hazardous Materials Programs Division has been working on the issue of "Environmental Justice" as part of the Reducing Health Disparities Initiative (RHDI).

Because Contra Costa is home to several large oil refi neries and chemical plants, Environmental Justice is a major health concern for us. It's also a major RHDI issue because many low-income residents and communities of color live near these refineries and plants and so are more likely to be impacted by a release, said Hazmat Director Randy Sawyer.

"There can be health consequences to these releases so it's important that these communities know how to protect themselves and what we're doing to help keep them safe," Randy said.

Two very important components to keeping the community safe are the Community Warning System (CWS) and the Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO). The ISO provides county oversight of the plants and refineries and requires them to submit safety plans.

Sawyer and two of his staff members, Hazmat Specialist II Maria Duazo and Accidental Release Prevention Engineer Cho Nai Cheung, are working to expand public education efforts about the ISO to both English- and Spanish-speaking communities. Last month, the program held an educational meeting at a local restaurant with members of a Latino community living near a chemical plant in Bay Point.

The event was a success and more than 100 community members attended. Hazmat is working with our Community Education and Information Unit (CEI) and CCTV, producing videos in both English and Spanish to educate the public about how Hazmat performs safety inspections of refineries.

Following a suggestion from the public, Hazmat also collaborated with CEI to create English and Spanish versions of a comic book explaining the ISO and to expand the English and Spanish website.

For more information, including to obtain copies of the comic book, visit or contact Randy Sawyer at or 925-646-2286.

Content provided by the Reducing Health Disparities Initiative.

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