Category Archives: Benicia Industrial Park

Andrés Soto Letter: Benicians Deserve Better

Repost from the Benicia Herald, Forum Page

Benicia deserves better

Andrés Soto

February 21, 2018, By Andrés Soto

Benicia is the only Bay Area refinery town that does not have the community protection of an Industrial Safety Ordinance, or ISO.

In 1999, the city of Richmond and Contra Costa County adopted their interlocking ISOs. The Richmond ordinance mirrors the Contra Costa ISO, and Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Division is responsible for enforcement and reporting.

Their experience with repeated refinery and associated hydrogen plant polluting events caused the elected leaders to respond to pressure from the disproportionally impacted communities in Richmond, Rodeo and Martinez for greater protection and information about polluting incidents.

How did Benicia miss out?

Since the adoption of the ISO, there have continued to be dangerous and deadly incidents at these Bay Area refineries, albeit at reduced rates, due to the ISO. Fortunately, the Richmond/Contra Costa ISO allows for corrective provisions that have improved refinery function and provided impacted communities with timely investigative information.

Under the ISOs, a 72-hour post incident report is available to the public. Monthly reports, or more frequently if necessary, follow that report and are publicly posted. To date, neither the Benicia City Council nor the people of Benicia have received any official reports on the nearly monthlong Valero flaring disaster this past May.

Based on the success of the Richmond/Contra Costa ISO, the California legislature adopted some of the process safety management portions of the ISO and made them state law, going into effect in October.

Unfortunately, the legislature did not adopt all elements of the ISOs. Benicia’s ability to receive information, publish the results of investigations to the public and to require Valero to take corrective action simply does not exist. Can we wait for the legislature to strengthen the state law?

While Valero and PG&E point the finger at each other over who is at fault for the Valero flaring disaster in May, Benicia remains in the dark. We know Valero was given permits to construct an adequate backup generator system but only one co-generator was built and the permit for the other was allowed to expire after several extensions, probably because of Valero’s bureaucrats in Texas.

Do we Benicians think we can count on Texas oil men to put our health and safety ahead of their profits? The lesson we learned from the successful battle to stop Valero’s dangerous Crude-By-Rail Project is the company seems to stop at nothing to ensure their profits – even at the expense of Benicians.

Benicia deserves better!

Andrés Soto,
Benicia

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Six Benicia derailments in last five years – Union Pacific investigating

Repost from the Benicia Herald
[Editor: For background on the 6 derailments in the Benicia Industrial Park over the last 5 years, see my recent article, Train cars come off the tracks in Benicia Industrial Park – again…  – RS]

Union Pacific still investigating cause of derailment Saturday

By George Johnston, September 29, 2017

A Union Pacific Railroad train derailed in Benicia on Saturday afternoon [September 23, 2017].

The train, consisting of nine hopper cars, derailed near Bayshore Road in the Benicia Industrial Park around 3:40 p.m. No injuries were reported from the incident, and no hazardous materials were spilled. Union Pacific Railroad is currently investigating the situation, representatives for the company said.

Since 2013, at least six train derailments have been reported in the Industrial Park. The most recent prior to Saturday’s accident included two over the course of a week last October. In all instances, no injuries or spillages were reported.

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Train cars come off the tracks in Benicia Industrial Park – again…

(Note dates of 6 derailments 2013-2017 and links to each below …)
(See also update on 9/29/17, “Six Benicia derailments in last five years – Union Pacific investigating”)

Sixth derailment in five years

Derailment in Benicia Industrial Park, 09-23-17

On Saturday September 23, 2017, several train cars derailed in Benicia’s Industrial Park. A local eyewitness reported passing by the scene at around 11:30pm on the 23rd. He saw ten covered gray hopper cars off the tracks, and rails torn apart, showing damage for about a tenth of a mile.

Youtube video, Constance Beutel, 9/24/17

By midday Sunday, the area was still closed to auto traffic. Local videographer Constance Beutel couldn’t see much, but surveyed the scene from a distance, and posted the result to YouTube.

A quick look back shows that there have been six such incidents in the Benicia Industrial Park in less than five years. *

I wrote to Beutel, indicating that we have a derailment like this on average of more than once a year. She wrote back, “Surely your data is wrong?  Didn’t the Valero Crude By Rail draft EIR clearly state that a derailment, given the data, would happen once in 111 years?  smile emoticon “

Well, not quite. The prediction was actually that there would be a crude oil release once every 111 years.  But given all the catastrophic derailments and explosions during those years, everyone knew that was just an industry snow job.

Thank goodness Valero’s dirty and dangerous proposal was stopped in its tracks!


* Background on the 6 derailments in Benicia 2013-2017:
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