Repost from The Vallejo Times-Herald
[Editor: Front page above-the-fold headline in the Vallejo Times-Herald on Friday, 8/29/14. The Times-Herald is one of two local print newspapers covering Benicia news. – RS]
Sacramento area leaders urge more study of Valero rail plan
Council of governments faults Benicia’s review as inadequateBy Tony Burchyns, 08/28/2014
Sacramento area leaders this week mailed a letter to Benicia urging more study of safety concerns stemming from Valero’s crude-by-rail plan.
The Sacramento Area Council of Governments, representing 22 cities and six counties, drafted the letter in response to the Valero refinery’s plan to run daily crude oil trains from Roseville to Benicia.
“We urge the City of Benicia to substantially revise the (draft environmental impact report) for this project so that it will fully inform the public and the City Council of the full impacts of this project,” the letter states.
Benicia’s review of the project found no significant safety risks. But the regional council claims the city failed to address fire and explosion risks to communities along the Placer County to Yolo County rail line.
A Benicia study found the risk of major oil train spills between Roseville and Benicia would be minimal, but critics say it relied on data predating the nation’s crude-by-rail boom.
The council, which approved sending the letter last week, has raised concerns in recent months about whether local first-responders would be notified in advance of crude oil shipments through their jurisdictions. It has also called for limitations on storing tank cars in urbanized areas.
The letter does not take a position on whether Valero’s proposed project should proceed.
Valero and Union Pacific officials have argued that the safety concerns fall beyond the purview of local government because rail transportation is federally regulated.
Valero is proposing daily shipments of up to 70,000 barrels of crude to its Benicia refinery. The tank cars would originate at unspecified North American sites and be shipped to the Union Pacific Railroad’s Roseville yard, where they would be assembled into two daily 50-car trains to Benicia.
Benicia has extended the public comment period on the project’s draft environmental impact report to Sept. 15.
Other agencies that have voiced concerns in comment letters include Caltrans, Yolo County and the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District.