This new edition of The Benicia Independent asks questions and explores answers related to Valero Benicia’s proposed crude-by-rail project. ~ Roger Straw, editor & publisher.
Repost from the Benicia Herald,
No spillage, none hurt in train derailment11/5/13, 10:05am
Coke dust contained after single rail car came off tracks in Industrial Park on Monday
Benicia police said a single rail car carrying coke dust from Valero Benicia Refinery derailed Monday, but no one was injured and no spillage occurred.
The cause of the derailment is under investigation, Benicia police Lt. Frank Hartig said in a news release.
He said Benicia Police Dispatch Center received a call at approximately 12:42 p.m. about the derailment at the intersection of Park and Bayshore roads in the Industrial Park, and Benicia police, Benicia Fire Department and representatives from the the refinery responded.
Hartig said they learned that the rail car loaded with coke dust, a refinery byproduct containing sulfur, carbon and heavy metals, had derailed while leaving the Valero property and crossing Park Road.
The train was traveling in an eastbound direction when the derailment occurred, he said, and the coke dust was contained in the rail car and there was no spillage.
There were no reported injuries to anyone involved, Hartig said.
He said investigators from the Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the rail car, responded to take over as the primary investigating agency, and they will seek to determine whether the derailment was caused by issues with tracks or the rail car, or whether it was caused by operator error.
He said the train engineers are cooperating with Union Pacific investigators, and the train engine is being examined as well.
The derailment caused damage to the roadway at the train crossing site, Hartig said, but the roadway was reopened to vehicular traffic at approximately 2:30 p.m.
The derailed train car remains on scene until machinery can arrive that will rerail the car, he said, and the roadway may have to be closed again until that can be accomplished.
“Through the collaborative efforts of the agencies that responded to this incident, the scene was rendered safe, and in a short amount of time the clearing of the roadway and reopening to vehicular traffic was done quickly and efficiently,” Hartig said.
Detailed testimony calling for an EIR
Valero’s proposed rail terminal came before Benicia’s Planning Commission on July 11. The public hearing was a critical moment for citizen concerns to be heard, and heard they were. Many Benicians and Bay Area experts asked for a more thorough process of review than the current “Initial Study” and “Mitigated Negative Declaration” prepared by City staff and an outside consultant. Over and over again, the Commission heard requests that they require the project to undergo a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
Valero supporters were present and gave their green light to the project, citing the many ways that the company serves their interests and those of Benicia.
Commissioners raised excellent questions, but Valero and City staff chose to delay any attempts at giving answers until they have had more time to prepare carefully studied responses. Staff responses are promised by Friday, August 2.
At the end of the meeting, City staff assured Commissioners and the public that additional comments on the project would be welcome, but then indicated that comments on the Initial Study and Negative Declaration were now closed. I was a bit confused by this. For now, if you want to comment, send a letter or email anytime prior to the next Commission meeting on August 8. Your PRESENCE at the meeting will speak even more loudly. Please plan to attend.
Written comments may be sent to City Manager Brad Kilger by email firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy to the Community Development Department at email@example.com.
Community meeting on July 9 attended by over 70
Valero’s proposed rail terminal could significantly impact air emissions, public health, the Suisun Marsh, emergency response time, traffic, and noise. Could it also open the door to increase supplies of very high-sulfur, low-quality crude oil from Canada’s tar sands to Valero’s Benicia Refinery? Benicia Good Neighbor Steering Committee and the Natural Resources Defense Council offered a workshop on July 9 to discuss potential hazards to Benicia residents, and ways to participate in the City’s evaluation of the project.
NRDC presented the findings of expert research commissioned by them on potential environmental impacts of the project, including local air pollution.
Over 70 local and Bay Area residents attended, along with our Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert and representatives from the office of California Assemblymember Susan Bonilla. All local print media and KQED Science were present to cover the event.
Benicians once again showed their incredible knowledge and interest in public decision-making as they asked a host of important questions. Many of those present plan to attend the July 11 meeting of the Benicia Planning Commission.