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Legal claims rolling in after East Bay refinery fire

  • Area residents line up outside the injury attorney offices of R. Nicholas Haney in Richmond, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, to pick up a claim form in response to the Chevron refinery fire that impacted the community. Investigators are waiting for access to the charred crude oil unit of a Chevron refinery where a fire sent a towering plume of black smoke into San Francisco Bay area skies and pushed gas prices higher along the West Coast. Hundreds of people went to hospitals with respiratory issues during the fire at the Richmond refinery that produces 16 percent of the region's daily gasoline supply. (AP Photo/Bay Area News Group, Laura A. Oda) MANDATORY CREDIT

RICHMOND — Several thousand Richmond residents have filed legal claims against Chevron Corp., seeking compensation for a refinery fire that fouled the region's air for hours and sent more than 4,000 people to seek medical care for breathing problems and irritated eyes.

Hundreds of residents showed up at a makeshift claim center in Richmond on Friday, and many more submitted claims throughout the week by calling a special hotline Chevron established after Monday's explosion and fire. The company said a total of about 3,800 people had submitted claims through Friday afternoon.

Most of the claims appear to be asking for modest amounts, reflecting the fact that there have been no reports of serious injury and nearly all seeking medical care were treated and released after a few hours in the hospital.

"It's not about the money," said Chanel Harris, who was seeking reimbursement for the cost of taking her three young children to the emergency room of the nearby Kaiser Hospital. "It's about holding Chevron accountable."

Harris spent about an hour in line and another 10 minutes talking to a claims adjuster inside the Nevin Community Center in Richmond. She said she won't know how much she's seeking until Kaiser sends a bill.


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