Repost from the Contra Costa Times
[Editor: A huge victory for our friends across the water! Congratulations to the Pittsburg Defense Council and everyone who worked so hard to STOP WesPac. See also: Reuters coverage. – RS]
Pittsburg: Proposed WesPac oil-by-rail shipping terminal is deadBy Sam Richards, 12/09/2015 06:37:16 AM PST
PITTSBURG — Plans to convert a moribund PG&E tank farm into a regional oil storage facility appear dead after the company proposing the project backed out, according to a city report.
WesPac Midstream LLC’s proposed Pittsburg Terminal Project had been in development on and off for the past four years.
WesPac on Nov. 16 “submitted a formal request to withdraw their application completely and terminate all work on the project,” according to the city report released Tuesday afternoon. No explanation was given for the Houston-based company’s decision.
In a voice mail, City Manager Joe Sbranti said Tuesday, “They didn’t give us a reason; they just withdrew it.”
Art Diefenbach, WesPac’s Pittsburg project manager, could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
In April, WesPac eliminated a proposed element of its project, withdrawing plans for loading as many as five 104-car oil trainloads a week at the Pittsburg facility. Diefenbach said at the time that the “regulatory environment” surrounding rail shipments of crude oil made it impractical to launch such trains.
The city report made no mention of oil prices, or whether they had an effect on WesPac’s decision. But at $37.51 a barrel Tuesday, prices are at their lowest since February 2009, down from almost $108 a barrel on June 14. The low oil prices have rocked the stock markets in recent days.
He also said then that protests against the crude oil trains, locally and nationally, factored in to the decision to abandon the rail proposal.
The old tanks are less than a half-mile from hundreds of houses and apartments on West 10th Street and in the downtown area between Eighth Street and the waterfront.
The project drew staunch opposition from various area environmentalists, as well as the Pittsburg Defense Council group. Reasons for opposition were myriad, critics said, ranging from the threat of an explosion at the terminal to prospective ground pollution issues to the vapors from the storage tanks.
Kalli Graham said the local group Pittsburg Defense Council, to which she belongs, had been fighting the oil terminal proposal since its inception, collecting more than 5,000 signatures against it in the process and even getting state Attorney General Kamala Harris to weigh in against it.
“WesPac had a big fight on its hands; there is pretty much no one in Pittsburg that wanted this,” said Graham, whose group was spreading the news among its followers Tuesday afternoon. “We don’t have to be worried about it anymore.”
City Council members Pete Longmire and Will Casey said Tuesday the council never received enough details about the project to make informed decisions on the worth of the project; even after four years of start-and-stop proposals, it was still early in the planning process.
“I was neutral on the project,” Longmire said. “I know this (WesPac) decision will make a lot of people in our city happy. But there are people in our city who wanted it to come, with the jobs it would have provided.
“The knife cuts both ways,” Longmire said.The Associated Press contributed to this story.