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Smoke and flame billow from a crude oil unit at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, Calif., Monday, Aug. 6, 2012. (D. Ross Cameron/Staff)

Chevron's Richmond refinery is committed to operating safely and reliably. On Aug. 6, we fell short of this standard and had a fire at the facility. We want to make it clear that we are striving to make things right.

Part of this effort is cooperating with county, state and federal authorities to learn what caused the incident so that we can take steps to prevent it from happening again.

In recent Times reporting on the fire and the subsequent investigation, Chevron critics misstate important information about the incident and mischaracterize the company's commitment to the health and safety of our workers and neighbors.

These critics wrongly conclude that we do not strive to run the cleanest, safest and most reliable refinery possible.

Refineries in the Bay Area operate under some of the most stringent air pollution controls in the world. In fact, Chevron complies with tens of thousands of environmental, health and safety requirements from more than 30 local, state and federal regulatory agencies that oversee the Richmond refinery to ensure that it meets or goes beyond these stringent environmental standards for air, water and waste.

In the past 10 years, we have significantly reduced incidents of flaring, emissions and recordable injuries through improvements to how we make our products and to personal safety.

By investing in modern technology and running the plant more efficiently, our refinery has reduced air emissions by 65 percent since the 1970s, is ranked among the state's most energy-efficient, produces much of its own electricity and has doubled its use of reclaimed water to 6 million gallons per day -- enough to supply 16,000 homes.

When it comes to air quality, assertions that refinery emissions are the cause of health issues such as asthma and cancer in Richmond and Contra Costa County are not supported by data.

Contrary to these assertions, data collected by the local air district shows that Richmond air quality is among the best in the Bay Area and is similar to San Francisco and better than cities such as Concord and Napa.

We constantly strive to improve our facility and ensure optimum safety for employees and the community.

We are also deeply invested in the community and contribute millions of dollars annually in support of local businesses and the city to help build a safe and vibrant community.

Unfortunately, a small group of critics, who do not live in Richmond and are not invested in the community, strive to mislead Californians and Times readers about our business.

We have had a successful 110-year relationship in Richmond and are committed to ensuring that the relationship between the city of Richmond, its citizens, and our refinery continues in a positive manner.

Donald Campbell is global manager for downstream and technology at Chevron in San Ramon.