Category Archives: County regulation

Solano County hosts community meeting on oil train safety issues [Mon. 9/29. 6pm, Fairfield]

Repost from The Vallejo Times-Herald
[Editor:  Regrettably, Solano County invited Valero Benicia Refinery and Union Pacific Railroad to make panel presentations at this “Community Conversation,” but did not invite Benicia’s officially recognized grassroots opposition organization,  Benicians For a Safe and Healthy Community (BSHC) to present.  Benicia is one of seven cities in Solano County.  Language used by the County in its original announcement of this “discussion” presumed an inevitable permitting of crude by rail in our area, even as permitting is being hotly debated here.  The updated announcement is clearer, but still used the verb will rather than would: “Proposals to process crude oil delivered by rail will change the mix of materials coming into and passing through Solano County.”  Under pressure to invite an environmentalist, the County invited oil and energy analyst, author, journalist and activist Antonia Juhasz to join the panel.  Juhasz has written three books: The Bush Agenda, The Tyranny of Oil, and Black Tide.  Oddly, the County’s recently updated publicity does not mention Juhasz.  BSHC and The Benicia Independent encourage everyone to attend.
…See also the news release on the Solano County website, and a similar article in The Benicia Herald and a better one in The Vacaville Reporter.  – RS]

Solano County to host community meeting on oil train safety issues

Times-Herald staff report, 09/26/2014 

FAIRFIELD >> Solano County will host a public meeting Monday to discuss risks posed by plans to increase oil train shipments through the region.

The meeting follows concerns raised by state, regional and local government officials about plans to ship two 50-car oil trains daily from Roseville to Benicia’s Valero refinery.

The information session will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Chambers at the County Administration Center, 675 Texas St. in Fairfield.

Last week, county officials sent a letter to Benicia asking for added measures to prevent train derailments in rural areas and protected wetlands. Also, state and Sacramento regional officials have called on the city to redo its safety analysis, saying the city has overlooked the risks of increased oil train traffic through other parts Northern California and beyond.

“The evening is about having a community conversation about our preparedness and the potential impacts from an incident along our railways,” Supervisor Linda Seifert said in a press release.

Seifert said the event format — a series of brief presentations and breakout groups — will be a facilitated discussion designed to raise awareness of the existing safety measures and identify potential gaps.

Invited speakers include representatives from the Solano County Office of Emergency Services, the Solano County Fire Chiefs Association, the Valero Benicia refinery, Union Pacific Railroad, local air quality management districts and the offices of U.S. Rep. John Garamendi and state Sen. Lois Wolk. A community perspective also will be incorporated into the lineup of speakers, county officials said.

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    Solano County to hold “Rail Safety Discussion” on Mon., Sept. 29, 6pm

    Repost from SolanoCounty.com News Details
    [Editor: this event has been referred to alternately as a “discussion”  a “forum,” an “information session,” a “public meeting,” and a “community conversation,”   Very little has been published to indicate that the County is eager to hear from the public at this meeting.  Nonetheless, governmental meetings always provide an opportunity for the public to be heard.  If you go, plan to learn something from emergency professionals, government officials and staff … and to offer your own sage advice on the best way to contain catastrophic emergencies….  – RS]

    Rail safety discussion planned for Sept. 29

    September 8, 2014

    SOLANO COUNTY – How can emergency responders increase their capabilities to respond to potential incidents that could happen along the 73 miles of railway that cross Solano County?

    That is the question to be discussed at an information session from
    6 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 29, in the Board of Supervisors Chambers at the County Administration Center, 675 Texas St. in Fairfield
    .

    “As we prepare for and anticipate the transportation of crude oil through our county, a community conversation about our preparedness and the potential impact from an incident is essential,” said Supervisor Linda Seifert.

    The meeting’s objective will be to raise awareness of the existing safety measures already in place throughout the county and to identify potential gaps and mitigations based on potential changes in rail traffic.

    Invited speakers include representatives from Valero, Union Pacific Railroad, Solano County Office of Emergency Services, the Solano County Fire Chiefs Association, and local air quality management districts. Congressman John Garamendi and state Senator Lois Wolk have also been invited to participate.

    County officials said the timing of the event was two-fold. September is National Emergency Preparedness Month. In addition, the City of Benicia is considering an application that would allow Valero to receive and process crude oil delivered by rail.

    “We know emergency responders from across the county, including the Hazardous Materials Response Team, are prepared for a wide array of potential incidents. Proposals to process crude oil delivered by rail will change the mix of materials coming into and passing through Solano County. It is only prudent for us to explore how to increase our capability to handle the risks associated with these changes,” Supervisor Seifert said.

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      Albany County enlists top legal firm for oil train fight

      Repost from Capital Playbook, Albany, NY
      [Editor: Significant quote: “The county has placed Mintz Levin on retainer….  The firm will help with a potential legal battle with Global Partners, which has threatened to sue after the county placed a moratorium on expanding crude-handling facilities at the Port of Albany.”  (emphasis added) – RS]

      Albany County enlists top legal firm for oil train fight

      By Scott Waldman  |  Aug. 22, 2014
      albany-county-enlists-top-legal-firm-oil-train-fight
      First responders are familiarized with tank cars on the CSX Safety Train next to the Hudson River in the Port of Albany. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

      ALBANY—Albany County has hired a high-powered Boston environmental law firm to help with its battle against a Fortune 500 company that’s bringing in millions of gallons of crude oil every day.

      The county has placed Mintz Levin on retainer, county attorney Tom Marcelle said. The firm will help with a potential legal battle with Global Partners, which has threatened to sue after the county placed a moratorium on expanding crude-handling facilities at the Port of Albany. Marcelle said Albany County has subpeona power and Mintz Levin could be used to enforce the county’s right to question top Global officials if they withhold information the county is seeking.

      “The county executive wanted to ensure the people of Albany County had the best to represent their health and safety,” he said.

      The county will probably spend up to $100,000 with the firm, Marcelle said.

      The firm, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, can also help the county submit comments to the federal Department of Transportation over its proposed new regulations for oil trains. Those federal regulations call for a phasing out of rail cars that transport a certain type of crude. Those cars are more likely to rupture and leak if they derail.

      County officials are not happy with the federal proposal because it would still allow those older cars to transport the type of heavy crude Global Partners wants to bring to Albany. That crude from the oil sands of western Canada, also known as tar sands, is nearly impossible to clean up from waterways like the Hudson River because it sinks to the bottom.

      The Boston law firm specializes in environmental law and employees about 500 attorneys. It has offices in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and elsewhere. Attorneys at Mintz Levin helped draft the state’s Brownfield pollution mitigation legislation and has defended enforcement actions in federal and state court, according to its website.

      Global, which is based in Waltham, Massachusetts and is a Fortune 500 company, threatened legal action against the county shortly after the moratorium was issued, but has yet to file suit.

      Albany County Executive Dan McCoy has taken a more aggressive approach to oil train enforcement than city and state officials and has also proposed a law that would fine oil train operators who fail to quickly report spills. McCoy has appointed a health and safety panel that is examining Global’s crude-handling facilities.

      Global wants to build a series of boilers at the port that would allow it to bring in heavy crude oil, like from the oil sands of western Canada.

      Albany has become one of the nation’s largest hubs from crude oil from the Bakken formation of North Dakota. The proposed boiler facility would effectively turn New York into a major oil-by-rail pipeline for another type of crude and has generated strong opposition.

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