Tag Archives: Earthquake

Tesoro Savage Port of Vancouver report: 28 more oil trains each week; salmon, earthquake, derailment risks, etc.

Repost from the Seattle Times
[Editor:  The press is full of revealing information taken from the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) analyzing the proposed Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Project.  The document was released yesterday.  Several media links are provided below.  – RS]

28 more oil trains across state each week if big terminal built, study says

By Hal Bernton,  November 24, 2015, Updated 11/25/15 9:25 am

A major oil terminal proposed for Vancouver, Wash., would bring an additional 28 oil trains per week across the state and launch a new era of oil-tanker traffic down the Columbia River, according to a draft state study released Tuesday.
…but concerns about the risks of oil-train derailments … the study noted that trains also may deliver bitumen — a heavier crude …  [FULL STORY]

Also see:

 

    BENICIA HERALD: Long-awaited reissue cites ‘significant’ environmental impacts; public given 45 days to comment

    Repost from the Benicia Herald

    Revised, expanded crude-by-rail report released

    Long-awaited reissue cites ‘significant’ environmental impacts; public given 45 days to comment

    By Nick Sestanovich, September 1, 2015

    “Because no reasonable, feasible mitigation measures are available that would, if implemented, reduce the significance below the established threshold, this secondary hazards- and hazardous materials-related impact would be significant and unavoidable.”  – The Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report on Valero’s Crude-by-Rail Project

    The long-awaited revision of the draft Valero Crude-by-Rail Project Environmental Impact Report was released Monday, almost a full year after California’s attorney general and others publicly challenged the scope and accuracy of the document.

    The new report cited additional negative environmental effects of the project pertaining to air quality, greenhouse gases, protected species and more, expanding its scope to cover impacts for more “uprail” communities — and finding “significant and unavoidable” effects that would result from approval of the project.

    The “recirculated” report (RDEIR) is just the latest development in Valero’s three-year battle to bring crude oil deliveries to its Benicia refinery by train. The proposal for a use permit to extend Union Pacific Railroad lines into its property so crude oil could be delivered by rail car, initially submitted to Benicia Planning Commission in late 2012, triggered an uproar over environmental and safety concerns, which prompted the drafting of an Environmental Impact Report.

    The document, released in 2014, was criticized by many, including Attorney General Kamala Harris and state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, who felt the report’s focus on the 69 miles of rail between Benicia and Roseville didn’t adequately convey the scope of the project’s potentially negative impacts.

    The RDEIR addressed these concerns by expanding the range of its focus beyond Roseville to three new routes: the Oregon state line to Roseville; the Nevada state line to northern Roseville; and the Nevada state line to southern Roseville.

    In the process, the report uncovered more significant environmental impacts.

    The refinery has said it expected 50 to 100 additional rail cars to arrive up to twice a day, brought in at a time of day when there would be little impact on traffic. The trains would carry 70,000 barrels of North American crude each day, replacing shipped barrels from foreign sources, the refinery said in its use permit application.

    The DEIR had initially noted that greenhouse gas emissions generated by the Crude-by-Rail Project would be “less than significant.” The RDEIR updated the risk level of direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions to “significant and unavoidable,” specifically if trains used the line from Oregon to Roseville, which would travel a round-trip distance of 594 miles per day.

    Additionally, the RDEIR found that the project would conflict with Executive Order S-3-05, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

    The revised report also found that nitrogen-oxide levels would increase in the Yolo-Solano region, among other areas, and that nitrogen emissions in Placer County “would exceed the cumulative 10-pounds-per-day significance threshold.”

    Biological resources are another area of concern. According to the report, crude-by-rail trains could have “potential impacts to biological resources along any southern route,” that “could include collision-related injury and mortality to protected wildlife and migratory bird species.”

    Finally, the RDEIR said, other hazards exist: If a train were to crash and result in a small oil spill, there would be a 100-percent chance of 100 gallons or more being released. Similarly, should a train crash in a high fire danger area, the risks would be inevitable.

    As the report notes, “Because no reasonable, feasible mitigation measures are available that would, if implemented, reduce the significance below the established threshold, this secondary hazards- and hazardous materials-related impact would be significant and unavoidable.”

    Conversely, other areas of concern such as noise pollution and earthquakes, were found to have little or no significant impact.

    “Valero’s effort to rush through their dangerous project and their long record of constant violations and fines of Bay Area Air Quality Management District emissions rules give many of us pause to reflect on the many risks associated with this project,” said Andres Soto, a Benicia resident and member of Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community, a group formed to opposed the Crude-by-Rail Project.

    “It is only due to the volume and detail of scope of all of the public comments received on the original Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) that Benicia chose to recirculate a seriously flawed DEIR. California Attorney General Kamala Harris and many uprail communities, as well as many Benicians, including BSHC, identified many critical shortcomings with the original DEIR.

    “Valero has shown nothing but intransigence and misinformation in the face of this opposition to its flawed proposal, thus we do not expect much to have changed in the RDEIR from the DEIR that would convince us that Valero and Union Pacific Railroad can make this project safe enough for Benicia. The risk of catastrophic explosions along the rail line and in Benicia, and the plan to process dirtier extreme crude oils strip-mined from Canadian tar sands and fracked in the Bakken shale formation is just too dangerous for our safety and our environment.

    “We hope that after thoroughly reviewing the RDEIR, our Planning Commission and City Council will have the wisdom to deny this project for the good of Benicia, our neighboring communities and the good of our planet.”

    A Valero representative was asked to comment on the newly released report but did not respond by press time Monday.

    Copies of the RDEIR are available at Benicia Public Library, 150 East L St.; at the Community Development Department at Benicia City Hall, 250 East L St.; and as a PDF download on the city’s website, www.ci.benicia.ca.us.

    Public comments on the RDEIR will be accepted by the city until Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. Comments may be submitted in writing to Amy Million, principal planner of the Community Development Department, 250 East L St., Benicia, CA 94510; or they may be given at formal public hearings on the project by Benicia Planning Commission, the first of which will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at City Hall.

    Additional Planning Commission meetings to receive comments on the RDEIR are scheduled for Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct. 8.

      CCST Report: Fracking pollution poses major risks

      [Editor:  Contrasting reports on a recent California Council on Science and Technology report.  – RS]

      Repost from The Center for Biological Diversity

      New Study: Fracking Pollution Poses Major Threat to California’s Air, Water

      Scientists’ Warnings Come Too Late to Shape State’s Weak Fracking Regulations

      July 15, 2015

      SACRAMENTO, Calif.— A study released today by the California Council on Science and Technology warns that fracking and other oil extraction techniques emit dangerous air pollution and threaten to contaminate California’s drinking water supplies. Millions of Californians live near active oil and gas wells, which exposes them to the air pollutants indentified in the report.

      The troubling findings come a week after Gov. Jerry Brown’s oil officials finalized new fracking regulations that do little to address such public health and water pollution risks.

      “This disturbing study exposes fatal flaws in Gov. Brown’s weak fracking rules,” said Hollin Kretzmann of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Oil companies are fouling the air we breathe and using toxic chemicals that endanger our dwindling drinking water. The millions of people near these polluting wells need an immediate halt to fracking and other dangerous oil company practices.”

      Last week the state’s Department of Conservation began implementing new fracking regulations and finalized an assessment of fracking’s health and environmental risks, even though the science council had not finished evaluating fracking’s dangers. The science council is an independent, nonprofit organization that advises California officials on policy issues.

      Today’s report concludes that fracking in California happens at unusually shallow depths, dangerously close to underground drinking water supplies, with unusually high chemical concentrations. That poses a serious threat to aquifers during the worst drought in California history.

      Air pollution is also a major concern. In the Los Angeles area, the report identifies 1.7 million people — and hundreds of daycare facilities, schools and retirement homes — within one mile of an active oil or gas well. Atmospheric concentrations of pollutants near these oil production sites “can present risks to human health,” the study says.

      But Gov. Brown’s new fracking regulations do not address deadly air pollutants like particulate matter and air toxic chemicals. A recent Center analysis found that oil companies engaged in extreme oil production methods have used millions of pounds of air toxics in the Los Angeles Basin.

      Among the science council’s other disturbing findings:

      • California places no limits on how close oil and gas wells can be to homes, schools or daycare facilities, which can expose people to dangerous air pollution from fracking and other oil extraction procedures.
      • Serious concerns are raised over the oil industry’s disposal of fracking waste fluid and produced water into open pits and the use of oil waste fluid to irrigate crops.
      • The health and water pollution impacts of fracking chemicals that could be present in oil waste that’s dumped into open pits “would be extremely difficult to predict, because there are so many possible chemicals, and the environmental profiles of many of them are unmeasured.”
      • Wildlife habitat can be fragmented or lost because of fracking and other oil development – and fracking-related oil development in California “coincides with ecologically sensitive areas” in Kern and Ventura Counties.
      • Confirmation that many oil industry wastewater injection wells are close to active faults — a practice has triggered earthquakes in other states. The science council identified more than 1,000 active injection wells within 1.5 miles of a mapped active fault — and more than 150 are within 656 feet.

      “These troubling findings send a clear message to Gov. Brown that it’s time to ban fracking and rein in our state’s out-of-control oil industry,” Kretzmann said. “California should follow the example set by New York, which wisely banned fracking after health experts there concluded this toxic technique was just too dangerous.”

      Contact: Clare Lakewood, (510) 844-7121, clakewood@biologicaldiversity.org
      The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

      Repost from Public News Service

      Report: Fracking Risk to CA is Aquifer Contamination, Not Quakes

      By Suzanne Potter, July 10, 2015
      PHOTO: A hydraulic fracturing well in Kern County. The safety of fracking is the subject of a new report. Photo credit: California Council on Science and Technology.
      PHOTO: A hydraulic fracturing well in Kern County. The safety of fracking is the subject of a new report. Photo credit: California Council on Science and Technology.

      SACRAMENTO, Calif – A new report says hydraulic fracturing can contaminate groundwater when the excess water is not properly disposed of, but is not linked to earthquakes in California.

      In January, a study by the Seismological Society of America linked a series of earthquakes in Ohio to fracking, and there have been similar claims in other states as well.

      The new study released Thursday comes from the California Council on Science and Technology and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Jane Long, the lead scientific researcher, says hydraulic fracturing poses some safety concerns but they’re manageable.

      “A lot of things people were concerned about are things that are not as big a problem as they think they are,” says Long. “And some of the practices are things that need to change and need more attention.”

      The report says the oil companies should phase out percolation ponds used to dispose of excess water because toxic fracking chemicals can get into the aquifer. And it recommends companies put aside about a third of the chemicals currently in use because there’s not enough data about them.

      The Center for Biological Diversity points to the finding that oil operations can pollute the air in their immediate vicinity. Long is optimistic that the report will spur further reforms.

      “Some of them are going to be recommendations that will be very easy to act on right away and I think they will be acted on and some of them are going to require some process,” she says.

      The report was required by the 2013 passage of State Senate Bill 4, which established new safety measures for fracking, rules that went into effect on July 1.