Tag Archives: California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

SACRAMENTO BEE: State seeks fee on dangerous chemicals crisscrossing California

Repost from the Sacramento Bee

State seeks fee on dangerous chemicals crisscrossing California

By Tony Bizjak, July 22, 2016 6:00AM

HIGHLIGHTS
• California officials say the state isn’t prepared to handle hazardous materials spills
• A new $45 fee on every rail car carrying dangerous substances will help beef up spill response

    KQED: Pipeline at Center of Altamont Pass Oil Spill Also Ruptured Last September

    Repost from KQED
    [Editor: A colleague reports that “The Altomont Pass pipeline brings heavy crude oil from southern San Joaquin Valley oilfields to some of our Bay Area refineries.”  – RS]

    Pipeline at Center of Altamont Pass Oil Spill Also Ruptured Last September

    By Ted Goldberg, May 24, 2016

    California’s fire marshal has launched an investigation into an oil pipeline rupture that spilled at least 20,000 gallons of crude near Tracy over the weekend — eight months after the same pipeline had a break in a similar location.

    Shell Pipeline crews are still cleaning up from the most recent spill near Interstate 580 and the border between Alameda and San Joaquin counties four days after the 24-inch diameter line broke.

    Crews with the oil giant were able to complete repairs on the pipe on Monday, according to a Shell official.

    The pipeline stretches from Coalinga in Fresno County to Martinez.

    The rupture on the line was first reported at 3 a.m. on Friday, said Lisa Medina, an environmental specialist at the San Joaquin County Environmental Health Department.

    Shell discovered a loss of pressure in the pipeline, filed a report with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and then shut the line down.

    San Joaquin County officials believe the spill covered an area 250 feet long by 40 feet wide, Medina said in an interview.

    A preliminary test of the pipeline found a split of approximately 18 to 20 inches in length, said company spokesman Ray Fisher in an email.

    Fisher also confirmed that the same pipeline ruptured and caused an oil spill in the same vicinity, near West Patterson Pass Road, last Sept. 17.

    Here’s a link to Shell’s report on that incident that found the rupture spilled 21,000 gallons of oil, about the same amount as Friday’s break.

    Fisher said Shell inspects its pipelines every three years, and the company conducted an inspection of the line after the September incident.

    He added that the line has no history of corrosion problems.

    It’s unclear what caused the most recent spill.

    On Tuesday, state fire officials confirmed that the Office of the State Fire Marshal had opened a probe into the pipeline rupture.

    Federal regulators are not investigating the break, but are providing technical support to the state, said an official with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

    The spill prompted concerns from environmentalists.

    Sierra Club representatives pointed out that the spill near the Altamont Pass came weeks after Shell spilled about 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and a year after a major spill involving another company’s pipeline on the Santa Barbara County coast.

    “Sadly, it’s become undeniable that oil spills will remain the status quo if we continue our dependence on dirty fuels,” said the Sierra Club’s Lena Moffitt in a statement. “This is just Shell’s latest disaster and the company has done nothing to assuage fears that it can stop its reckless actions.”

    “The environmental impacts could be very serious,” Patrick Sullivan, a spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in an interview. Sullivan said the spill could hurt birds and other animals in the area and could contaminate nearby groundwater.

    State water regulators, though, say they’re not concerned the spill could affect water in the area.

    “Given the location and the relatively limited extent of the spill, it is highly unlikely that the spill would affect underlying  groundwater and even more unlikely that it would impact any drinking water supplies,” said Miryam Baras, a spokeswoman for the State Water Resources Control Board, in an email.

    Sullivan also questioned whether Shell’s statements on the size of the oil spill were correct.

    “We don’t know how much oil has been spilled,” Sullivan said. “With previous pipeline spills the initial estimates have sometimes turned out to be wrong. They’ve turned out to be under-estimates.”

    Fisher, the Shell spokesman, said the company had not revised its estimates.

      Senator calls on Jerry Brown to halt crude oil trains in ‘treacherous’ California mountain passes

      Repost from the Sacramento Bee
      [Editor: See also KQED News: Call for Suspension of Crude-by-Rail Shipments After Feather River Derailment (including an embedded copy of Senator Hill’s letter).  – RS]

      Senator calls on Jerry Brown to halt crude oil trains in ‘treacherous’ California mountain passes

      By Tony Bizjak, 12/02/2014
      A crude oil train operated by BNSF snakes its way west through James, Ca., just outside of the Feather River Canyon in the foothills into the Sacramento Valley on June 5, 2014.
      A crude oil train operated by BNSF snakes its way west through James, Ca., just outside of the Feather River Canyon in the foothills into the Sacramento Valley on June 5, 2014. JAKE MIILLE SPECIAL TO THE BEE

      Sen. Jerry Hill on Tuesday called on Gov. Jerry Brown to halt the transport of crude oil on trains and other hazardous materials “through our most treacherous passes.”

      The request by Hill, D-San Mateo, comes in reaction to a corn train derailment last week in the Feather River Canyon that sent train cars and corn spilling down an embankment into the river. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

      The Feather River route through Plumas and Butte counties is used by at least one train a week carrying up to 2.9 million gallons of highly flammable Bakken crude oil from North Dakota. More crude oil trains are expected to be coming into the state in the next few years, most of them traversing mountains passes deemed “high-risk” for derailments by the state Public Utilities Commission. State officials have said they do not believe California is ready to deal with the consequences of a major oil spill and fire.

      “This incident serves as a warning alarm to the state of California,” Hill wrote in a letter to the governor. “Had Tuesday’s derailment resulted in a spill of oil, the spill could have caused serious contamination” in Lake Oroville, the state’s second largest reservoir, a source of drinking water for millions in the state.

      Other “high-risk” derailment sections in Northern California include UP lines outside of Dunsmuir and Colfax.

      Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said the state cannot stop interstate commerce, but said the state needs to continue to work with the railroads to assure safer shipments. “These trains are going to come through,” he said. “We need to work together with the industry to put every safety precaution possible in place.”

      Several environmental groups filed a petition Tuesday in San Francisco federal court seeking to force the federal government to ban older railroad cars – DOT-111s built before 2011 – from transporting crude oil. The U.S. Department of Transportation last month rejected the groups’ demand. DOT says it’s developing new guidelines that will phase out the older cars.