Category Archives: Crude By Rail

Vancouver City Council urged to oppose Tesoro oil terminal

Repost rom The Columbian
[Editor: The resolution is expected to pass.  – RS]

In Our View: Stopping the Oil Terminal

Vancouver City Council should formally adopt its opposition to proposed project

May 19, 2014

After months of limbering up, members of the Vancouver City Council have taken a swing at a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver — and smacked one out of the park. Councilors have prepared a draft resolution weighing in on the deal reached last year between port officials and Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies. They have opposed the proposal in no uncertain terms and have urged government entities that have a say in the matter to rule against it.

The draft resolution will be discussed by the council during a workshop Monday and will receive a public hearing on June 2; council members are expected to vote on the resolution June 16. And while the city has no official decision-making capacity regarding the oil terminal — which would handle up to 380,000 barrels of crude oil per day, arriving by train from the Bakken formation in North Dakota — it has effectively distilled the arguments against the idea. Among the items included in the resolution’s 37 “whereas” statements:

• “Human error, acts of nature and unforeseen disasters are beyond the control of measures proposed for the Vancouver oil terminal project and could have devastating effects on the entire community.”

• There have been several well-documented derailments and explosions of trains carrying Bakken crude, including one in Quebec that killed 47 people.

• The city has invested heavily in a proposed Columbia Waterfront Development, a $1.3 billion project that would result in commercial, residential, and recreational outlets along the banks of the Columbia River — just upriver from the terminal site and in the shadow of the rail tracks used by oil trains.

Each of these is an important aspect deserving of consideration, but the most valid argument from city officials is this: “Whereas the City has a paramount interest in the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and believes that the development of the proposed Tesoro Savage crude by rail oil terminal is contrary to the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and business community.”

These talking points have been presented previously by some on the city council and by many members of the public. But formal adoption of the resolution by council members (four of the seven members have expressed opposition to the terminal) would go a long way toward stopping it in its tracks. The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council is reviewing the proposal and will make a recommendation to Gov. Jay Inslee, who will have the final say regarding approval. The city council’s resolution urges both EFSEC and the governor to decline certification of the terminal, and it also urges federal and state lawmakers to tighten regulations regarding the transportation of crude oil.

Most intriguingly, council members request that the Port of Vancouver terminate its lease with Tesoro and Savage. The ability of port officials to do that remains open to interpretation — in part because the lease released to The Columbian under a public-records request contains heavily redacted portions. It is difficult to assess the legal obligations of the port under such a veil of secrecy, which is another reason to question the terminal proposal. If Tesoro and Savage cannot trust the public to know the details, it’s unlikely the public will trust the companies to act in the best interest of the community.

The reasons for opposing the oil terminal are sound and well-considered, having undergone months of scrutiny and discussion. The Vancouver City Council would be wise to formally adopt its opposition.

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CEO hopes town where 47 died will OK oil trains

Repost from The San Francisco Chronicle, Biz & Tech

CEO hopes town where 47 died will OK oil trains

David Sharp, Associated Press  |  May 16, 2014

FILE - In this July 6, 2013 photo, smoke rises from flaming railway cars that were carrying crude oil after it a train derailed in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada. A large swath of the town was destroyed after the derailment, sparking several explosions and fires that claimed 47 lives. John Giles, top executive of Central Maine and Quebec Railway, that purchased the railroad responsible for the derailment, said Friday, May 16, 2014 that they plan to resume oil shipments after track safety improvements are made.

Paul Chiasson, AP  – FILE – In this July 6, 2013 photo, smoke rises from flaming railway cars that were carrying crude oil after it a train derailed in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada. A large swath of the town was destroyed after the derailment, sparking several explosions and fires that claimed 47 lives. John Giles, top executive of Central Maine and Quebec Railway, that purchased the railroad responsible for the derailment, said Friday, May 16, 2014 that they plan to resume oil shipments after track safety improvements are made.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The company buying the assets of a railroad responsible for a fiery oil train derailment that claimed 47 lives in Quebec plans to resume oil shipments once track safety improvements are made, its top executive said Friday.

John Giles, CEO of Central Maine and Quebec Railway, said he hopes to have an agreement with officials in Lac Megantic, Quebec, within 10 days that would allow the railroad to ship nonhazardous goods, restoring the vital link between the railroad’s operations to the east and west of the community.

The company plans to spend $10 million on rail improvements in Canada over the next two years with a goal of resuming oil shipments in 18 months, he said.

“In the interest of safety, and I think being sensitive toward a social contract with Lac Megantic, we have chosen not to handle crude oil and dangerous goods through the city until we’ve got the railroad infrastructure improved and made more reliable,” he told The Associated Press.

The oil industry is relying heavily on trains to transport crude in part because of oil booms in North Dakota’s Bakken region and Alberta’s oil sands.

In July, a train transporting Bakken oil was left unattended by its lone crew member while parked near Lac Megantic. The train began rolling and sped downhill into the town, where more than 60 tank cars derailed and several exploded. The accident killed 47 people and destroyed much of the town. Three workers were charged this week in Canada with criminal negligence.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants the railroad and Lac Megantic residents to work together on a final plan.

“Any plan the company has should take into account the tragedy the people of Lac Megantic have gone through and should be done in collaboration with the administration of the city,” said Carl Vallee, a spokesman for the prime minister.

Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt said only that she was monitoring the situation.

Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche, who had no comment on Friday, previously told the new operator that she wanted the railroad to be re-routed around the downtown.

News that the new railroad is already talking about resuming operations upset Yannick Gagne, owner of the cafe-bar that was at ground zero of the tragedy.

“People are still in distress, in pain, facing financial problems, and we’re talking about the train company starting up,” the Musi-Cafe owner said.

Giles said he intends to move slowly and understands the community’s concerns. He said he hopes to convince the people of Lac Megantic that the rail is safe enough for shipments of dangerous goods by this fall. He said he wouldn’t press for crude oil shipments until later.

“I want to get the railroad in position that by January 2016 that I can at least begin to compete for potential crude business moving east-west,” Giles said.

What business may be available at that point is unclear, the company said.

New York-based Fortress Investment Group was the winning bidder for the assets of Hermon, Maine-based Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, which declared bankruptcy after the disaster. Central Maine and Quebec Railway closed on the sale of U.S. assets on Thursday and is expected to close of the Canadian assets in a couple of weeks.

Giles made his comments Friday in a telephone interview from Bangor, where his company had called former Montreal, Maine and Atlantic workers for a two-day meeting to talk about safety and operations.

He said the rail is in rough shape, with speeds reduced to 10 mph in many sections in Canada. He said the goal is to improve the track to safely increase train speeds to 25 mph. He also said he has no plans to operate trains with a single crew member.

With repairs, the company can transport crude safely, Giles said.

“The railway is important to the community, people, jobs and commerce,” he said. “We believe and we’ve proven … that we can handle every type of commodity safely and efficiently.”

___

Associated Press writer Rob Gillies contributed to this report from Toronto.
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Expert Presentations: Oil Spill Prevention & Response Forum, Vallejo, CA

Powerpoint Presentations from the Oil Spill Prevention & Response Forum, Vallejo 16May2014:

1. Ernie Sirotek – Petroleum Crude by Rail
2. Gordon Schremp – OSPR Meeting Vallejo – CEC Final 5-6-14 GDS
3. Neil Gambow – New Regulations for Tank Car Construction
4. Joy Lavin-Jones Regs PP
5. Ed Hughlett – Casualty Lessons Learned CMA 2014
6. Lexia Littlejohn – First 96 Hours.CMA Presentation.Littlejohn
7. M Thomas OSPR Regulatory Overview
8. Nicole Stewart Spill Prevention and Response Day – KM
9. Geoffrey Ashton – LNG in NA safe bunkering procedures

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