On April 19, 2004, Margie Richard was awarded one of the 2004 Goldman Environmental Prizes in San Francisco, California. Find out more about the Goldman Award or read an interview with Margie after she received the award.
Since Shell Chemical and the citizens of the Diamond neighborhood reached an agreement over relocation, Margie Richard has moved out of her old home and is busy getting settled in her new life.
“I am about four and a half miles away from the plant, approximately, and that proximity alone helps me because usually where I was, no matter where I turned I would see, I was just surrounded by the industrial facilities, the tanks and the pipelines and the steam and the smoke. Well I can’t see that from where I am. I see houses, I see green lawns, I see trees, and I love trees, I love nature. But the proximity where I am now is really a comfort and a joy for me and was also for my mom.”
“The other two streets that were excluded in the beginning are now included. And their package deal is a very good deal for those who want to relocate… [There] is money allotted for cleanup, moving, money also allotted for those who are not property-owners, who are renters, to find another rental place or do whatever they want to as far as investment… And it’s a volunteer purchase program, so therefore those who want to, they do have enough to relocate. Those who don’t want to relocate also have something that’s in their favor. If they remain there, then the remaining of the moneys that Shell was fined from E.P.A. to take care must be placed back into upgrading the area, educational-wise, health-wise, beautification-wise, and also holistically, Norco will benefit from that also. It will never be the same, it’s upward mobility, job academies, and that’s further down the road but it’s in the making and the plans are already being put into action.”
“It’s always heartbreaking for me, watching houses being torn down isn’t anything easy. I know when my mother said she was ready to go, my mother does have a sense of humor, and she said to me, ‘Look, do what you’ve got to do in a hurry, and don’t try to get a sale for the house because it is dry rot.’ That house was over fifty or sixty years old and it had been shaken in the 1988 explosion and was never fully solid. And I said ‘Mom, we can’t get rid of the house,’ and she looked at me and she said ‘Look, I said do what you have to do, I’m ready to get out of dodge.’ And the day the house was being demolished and [so was] my mobile home, which went the next day… I called my mom and said ‘I’m crying because it’s like so many memories in this,’ she said ‘Oh,’ and she made a little remark like she was crying, and she laughed then she said ‘Honey, stop crying and let it go.’ The memories that anyone has in something you were brought up with, it’s not easy because it’s part of you. It has two sides, you’re glad not to be there, but on the other hand, there are so many rich memories.”