Category Archives: Violations of law

Union Pacific fined over $7 million for past 2 years; penalties surpass every railroad nationwide

Repost from KGW.com, Portland

Union Pacific fined over $7 million in 2 years

June 12, 2016, 12:54 PM. PDT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Union Pacific penalties surpass every railroad nationwide for the past two years.

The Oregonian/OregonLive obtained inspection records and reports that the Federal Railroad Agency fined Union Pacific over $7 million from 2014 through 2015.

An Oregon Department of Transportation inspection found repeated safety violations the day before Union Pacific train cars carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire on June 3.

The issues listed by state inspectors appear unrelated to the derailment.

Conductors left trains in Portland yards without setting breaks on multiple occasions, which an expert said could cause runaway trains.

Inspectors also found four instances since September when switches were left unlocked and made it possible for anyone to pull a lever and reroute a train.

A Union Pacific spokesman said the railroad stands by its safety record.

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    Benicia: Valero to pay $196,000 to settle air quality violation notices

    Repost from the Contra Costa Times

    Benicia: Valero to pay $196,000 to settle air quality violation notices

    By Tom Lochner, 10/29/2015 04:35:26 PM PDT

    BENICIA — Valero Oil Co. will pay $196,000 for air quality violations at its Benicia refinery, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced Thursday.

    The settlement covers 23 violation notices issued by the air district for incidents that occurred in 2012, the district said. The two most significant ones involved errors in an inspection database that omitted listing certain valves, resulting in missed leak inspections.

    Eight of the lesser violations involved excessive emissions measured by monitors; six involved hydrocarbon vapor leaks from valves or seals on storage tanks; and seven involved late reports or other minor administrative violations. All were corrected as soon as they were discovered, the district said.

    The air district is proposing four new rules that would require tougher emissions limits, more monitoring, and quicker equipment repairs and upgrades to help meet its 20 percent refinery emissions reduction goal by 2020.

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      Rail safety bill sent to CA Governor – requires minimum 2-person crews

      Press Release from California State Senator Lois Wolk
      [Editor:  Significant quote: “According to the CPUC, of all the industries subject to their oversight — energy, water, telecommunications, and transportation — rail accidents result in the greatest number of fatalities each year”  See also coverage in The Reporter, Vacaville, CA.  – RS]

      Wolk rail safety bill sent to Governor

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

      August 21, 2015, Contact: Melissa Jones, (916) 651-4003 
      Bill requires minimum two–person train crews

      SACRAMENTO—The State Assembly voted 51-28 yesterday to approve legislation by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) to protect communities along rail lines and railroad workers by requiring trains and light engines carrying freight within California to be operated with an adequate crew size. The bill now goes to the Governor.

      “Today’s freight trains carry extremely dangerous materials, including Bakken crude oil, ethanol, anhydrous ammonia, liquefied petroleum gas, and acids that may pose significant health and safety risks to communities and our environment in the case of an accident,” said Wolk.

      “With more than 5,000 miles of railroad track that crisscrosses the state through wilderness and urban areas, the potential for derailment or other accidents containing these materials is an ever present danger. I urge the Governor to sign this bill into law, providing greater protection to communities located along rail lines in California, and to railroad workers.”

      SB 730 prohibits a freight train or light engine in California from being operated unless it has a crew consisting of at least two individuals.   It also authorizes the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to assess civil penalties, at its discretion, against anyone who willfully violates this prohibition.

      The CPUC supports SB 730, stating that requiring two-person crews is a straightforward way of ensuring two qualified crew members continue to operate freight trains in California.  According to the CPUC, of all the industries subject to their oversight — energy, water, telecommunications, and transportation –rail accidents result in the greatest number of fatalities each year.

      “Senator Wolk’s legislation helps keep us at the forefront of rail safety,” said Paul King, Deputy Director of the Office of Rail Safety for the CPUC. “Senator Wolk’s bill would ensure that freight trains continue to have the safety redundancy that a second person provides. Such redundancy is a fundamental safety principle that is evidenced in certain industries, such as using two pilots in an airplane cockpit, or requiring back-up cooling systems for nuclear reactors.”

      The bill is also supported by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, International Brotherhood of Teamsters; California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO; California Teamsters Public Affairs Council; and United Transportation Union.

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