Category Archives: Valero Benicia Refinery

Davis and “Uprail” Communities organize to oppose Crude By Rail

Repost from Cool Davis, Davis, California

Crude-by-Rail Opportunity for Written Comments

Workshop on How to Respond to the Draft EIR
Wednesday, June 18 from 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Fellowship Hall at Davis Community Church (421 D Street)
Instruction, brainstorming, and organizing our efforts
Refreshments!

The Draft EIR for the Valero rail terminal Project in Benicia (70,000 barrels of crude oil /day or one unit train of 100 cars over 1 mile) will be released for a 45-day public comment period on June 10, with a possible extension to 60 or 90 days for review.

Our city will comment and has invited surrounding jurisdictions to join them. Other organizations and concerned individuals are also invited to make written comments during the comment period. To inform yourself about the project and begin thinking how you might respond, some recommended resources are:

http://www.beniciaindependent.com It posts all the official documents related to the proposed project as well as a plethora of articles.

 http://www.sightline.org is also a terrific resource for the bigger picture of crude-by-rail and also coal and natural gas export. http://www.sightline.org/research/the-northwests-pipeline-on-rails/ and http://daily.sightline.org/blog_series/the-northwests-pipeline-on-rails/ This blog series is outstanding, although it is aimed at Washington and Oregon which are besieged by trains compared to CA so far.

• Natural Resources Defense Council letter on safety (30 pages) http://yolanoclimateaction.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/rail-safety-comments-final-group-letter.pdf

• Two reports by Forest Ethics,    http://yolanoclimateaction.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/off-the-rails-ultimate-nw-forst-ethics-report.pdf     and http://forestethics.org//sites/forestethics.huang.radicaldesigns.org/files/ForestEthics-Refineries-Report-Sept2012.pdf

• Document by Attorney General Kamala Harris on safety and health concerns http://yolanoclimateaction.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/kamala-harris-addresses-inadequate-eir-on-wespac-in-pittsburg/#more-107

• An article on liability which is an angle that may not be addressed in the DEIR, http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/03/17/record-year-oil-train-accidents-leaves-insurers-wary
Gov. Brown added $6.7 million to the Office of Spill Prevention & Response to handle accidents.  It won’t go far in a catastrophe.

• More on risk assessment for railroads and who will be responsible for liability. http://daily.sightline.org/2014/05/19/risk-assessment-for-railroads/

• Rachel Maddow’s May 2, 2014 broadcast, “Public Safety at risk by Oil Train Shipments” at http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show

Key areas for uprail responders will most likely include public safety, the hazards of spills in terms of the environment, the insistence on the Right-to-know laws, health risks, liability issues, and the true cost of oil in terms of climate change.  Benicia has to respond to all comments in their final EIR, so the more specific, thoughtful and numerous our comments, the better.  Different people can address different aspects.

Another opportunity for citizen response: The Phillips 66 Santa Maria refinery in San Luis Obispo County request for a rail spur for 5 oil trains of 88 cars per week expects to release their Draft EIR possibly in July.

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Tar sands in our back yard

Repost from The Martinez News Gazette
[Editor: An excellent fact-filled summary on tar sands crude by our colleagues in the Martinez Environmental Group.  Note that Valero Benicia Refinery has admitted (in its open community meeting on March 24, 2014) that it may include tar sands crude in its “mix.”  See “NRDC report: Valero’s Magic Box.”  Also: “KPIX reports: Valero admits Tar Sands Crude, Fracked Oil could come through Benicia.”  – RS]

Martinez Environmental Group: Tar sands in our back yard

By AIMEE DURFEE & TOM GRIFFITH | May 22, 2014

Because fossil fuels are a finite resource, petroleum companies are now resorting to more extreme forms of oil extraction, including tar sands, fracking, and Arctic exploration. The tar sands are deposits of heavy crude oil trapped in sand and clay that are extracted using enormous amounts of water, as well as open pit mining, heat and horizontal wells. The largest deposit of Canada’s tar sands is along the Athabasca River in Alberta (Source: http://albertacanada.com).

Why is everyone so worried about the tar sands? First, tar sands oil extraction and production emit three times more carbon dioxide than the extraction and production of conventional oil. Second, tar sands extraction requires total destruction of pristine areas within the Canadian Boreal forest, one of the few large, intact ecosystems on Earth (Source: Friends of the Earth). Finally, the extraction of tar sands will have devastating global impacts. In a 2012 editorial in the New York Times, Jim Hansen of NASA famously wrote that if the tar sands are fully excavated, it will be “game over for the climate,” because Canada’s tar sands contain twice as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as has been emitted over the entire span of human history (Source: NYT! 5/9/12).

What does this have to do with Martinez? Shell Refinery in Martinez is currently receiving and processing tar sands (Source: CC Times, 6/1/13). Contra Costa County’s air is already very polluted, and this type of refining will only make it worse. Shell’s choice to refine tar sands will worsen the health of Martinez residents; pollution emanating from tar sands refineries are directly linked to asthma, emphysema and birth defects. (Source: Sierra Club, Toxic Tar Sands: Profiles from the Front Lines).

Additionally, the U.S. Geological Survey found that tar sands bitumen contains “eleven times more sulfur and nickel, six times more nitrogen, and five times more lead than conventional oil.” (Source: Environmental Integrity Project, Tar Sands: Feeding U.S. Refinery Expansions with Dirty Fuel).

But wait, there’s more … Shell also has a global role in profiting from the destruction of the climate. Royal Dutch Shell owns a whopping 60 PERCENT of the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada (Source: www.shell.com). If you Google “Athabasca tar sands,” you will see a veritable “Mordor” on Earth.

If all this makes you feel completely overwhelmed, get connected locally and join the Martinez Environmental Group. Climate change issues are happening literally in our back yard and we CAN do something about it.

If you want to stay updated on these issues and learn how to get involved, please go to http://mrtenvgrp.com/category/meetings.

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Two Petroleum Coke train cars derail in Benicia

Repost from The Benicia Herald
[Editor: Question: was the petcoke dust in these cars open to the wind when they derailed here in Benicia last Saturday?  What happens to the petcoke when one of these cars jostles up and then bangs down off the rails?  Anyone have a photo?  ANSWER TO THESE QUESTIONS FROM A LOCAL OBSERVER: “The cars that Valero uses to transport petcoke are ‘Hopper Cars’. They are closed top. They are not open gondala cars.  No, the product was not open to the wind.  They are completely covered and have a top fill with a door and 3 or 4 bottom discharge slide gates.”  – RS]

2 UP trains [sic] derail near Benicia refinery; no injuries or spills

May 19, 2014

Two Union Pacific train cars came off the rails about 5:25 p.m. Saturday, Mark Davis, UP director of corporate relations and media, said Monday.

The train serves Valero Benicia Refinery, Davis said. The derailment happened near there.

“There was no petroleum coke spill,” said Sue Fisher Jones, the refinery’s public affairs manager.

Davis concurred. “There were no injuries or spills,” he said.

“Both hopper cars were loaded with coke and derailed upright with all wheels off the rail,” he said, describing the incident.

“The cars were placed back on the track Sunday morning, and the cause of the derailment is under investigation,” Davis said.

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