Category Archives: Reactive organic gases (ROG)

Additional comments by environmental expert Dr. Phyllis Fox

By Roger Straw, April 19, 2016

Additional comments by environmental expert Dr. Phyllis Fox

The Benicia Independent is in receipt of an April 18, 2016 letter by Attorney Rachael Koss of Adams, Broadwell, Joseph and Cardozo, representing Safe Fuel and Energy Resources California (SAFER).

The letter introduces an additional 9-page analysis by environmental expert Dr. Phyllis Fox, “ROG and Benzene Emissions from Unloading Rack Operations.”  (ROG refers to Reactive Organic Gases.)

Dr. Fox’s new study includes sections on “Railcar Fugitive Emissions At Unloading Racks” and “Other Unloading Emissions” along with several tables.

This letter was submitted to the City of Benicia within the last hour, and had not yet been posted on the City’s website at the time of this posting.

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EXPERT REPORT ON LOCAL IMPACTS: Dr. Phyllis Fox rips Valero’s oil train proposal

By Roger Straw, April 5, 2016

The Benicia Independent is in receipt of the 92-page expert analysis of Dr. Phyllis Fox, submitted yesterday to the City of Benicia.  As of this posting, the report has not been posted on the City’s website.

The report focuses primarily on the many significant local impacts and risk factors.  This is highly important, in that the Council is being urged to ignore all of the crucial uprail factors of health and safety that have been identified.

City staff, paid consultants, the City’s contract attorney and Valero have all cited federal law that protects railroads from local or state regulation. Together, they claim that Benicia’s City Council may not deny or mitigate Valero’s plan based on anything beyond Valero’s small boundary.

Nearly a dozen opposing attorneys have testified to the contrary, asserting that Benicia has every right to deny a permit to a company like Valero that is NOT a railroad, and to condition any approval on local government and police powers to protect the health and safety of the community and those affected by impacts of the project.

Should the Council choose to ignore uprail impacts, Dr. Fox’s lengthy listing of local impacts will offer a clear path for a decisive vote to reject Valero’s proposal.  Taken together, the horrific uprail impacts alongside these daunting on-site health and safety impacts make a convincing case for denial.

Short of denial of the land use permit for the project, Dr. Fox has shown the many fatal flaws and inadequacies of the EIR.  She calls for it to be revised and recirculated yet again.

Dr. Fox’s table of contents and a significant excerpt follow. (Significant excerpt.) (Complete document.)

I. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

II. ON-SITE ROG EMISSIONS ARE SIGNIFICANT
……A. On-Site Fugitive Railcar ROG Emissions Are Significant
……B. Feasible Mitigation For On-Site Fugitive Railcar ROG Emissions
……C. Storage Tank ROG Emissions
…………1. Tanks Violate BAAQMD Rule 8-5
…………2. Feasible Tank Mitigation

III. ON-SITE TOXIC AIR CONTAMINANT EMISSIONS RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT OFF-SITE HEALTH RISKS

IV. PUBLIC SAFETY AND HAZARD IMPACTS ARE SIGNIFICANT
……A. The EIR’s Quantitative Significance Risk Assessment Is Incorrect and Unsupported
…………1. The Santa Barbara County CEQA Guidelines Are Misapplied
…………2. The Santa Barbara CEQA Guidelines Are Not Solely Applicable
…………3. The EIR’s Quantitative Risk Assessment Is Unsupported
……B. Off-Site Risks from On-Site Accidents Are Significant
…………1. Number of Injuries
…………2. Number of Fatalities
…………3. Feasible Mitigation
……C. The EIR Fails to Evaluate All Feasible Types of Accidents
……D. The EIR Fails to Evaluate All Feasible On-Site Accident Scenarios
…………1. Accidents During Train Maneuvering at Unloading Facility (Impact 4.7-3)
…………2. Accidents During Line Hookup And Crude Oil Transfer (Impact 4.7-4)
…………3. BLEVE (Thermal Tear)
……E. Accidents at Other Project Facilities Were Excluded
…………1. Crude Oil Pipeline
…………2. Crude Tank Farm
…………3. Access Road
……F. Factors Contributing to Hazard Impact Significance
…………1. The Location
…………2. Ignition Sources
…………3. External Events
…………4. Centroid Location
…………5. Other Rail Traffic

V. FLOODING IMPACTS ARE SIGNIFICANT
……A. Flooding Could Increase Hazards
……B. The Project Could Increase Flooding
……C. Flood Mitigation
……D. The EIR Fails to Address Benicia General Plan Requirements

SIGNIFICANT EXCERPT (footnotes removed here):

[Benicia’s] Community Development Director (CDD) concluded “the Project’s on-site impacts are mitigated to a less than significant level and all the findings can be made to approve the Use Permit.” Thus, Staff recommended that the City Council overturn the Planning Commission’s denial, certify the FEIR, and approve the Use Permit (3/9/16 CDD Memo).

SAFER requested that I review the CDD’s conclusions, focusing on on-site impacts. My analysis of the record and additional analyses, documented below, indicate that the Project will result in significant on-site impacts that have not been disclosed in the EIR. These include:

• Significant on-site emissions of reactive organic gases (ROG) from railcar fugitives;
• Significant on-site ROG emissions from change in service of existing crude oil storage tanks;
• Significant cancer, chronic, and acute health impacts from benzene emitted from railcar fugitives;
• Significant off-site injury and fatality impacts from on-site accidents;
• Significant off-site flooding impacts from on-site infrastructure and railcars; and
• Significant off-site injury and fatality impacts from on-site accidents caused by seismic shaking.

Thus, the EIR must be revised to disclose these impacts, impose all feasible mitigation, and be recirculated.

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