Tag Archives: California

NRDC report on Valero meeting – Valero’s Magic Box

Repost from NRDC Switchboard, Diane Bailey’s Blog

Valero’s Magic Box, balancing sludge v. stink of crude oil

Posted March 26, 2014

valero meeting.jpgLast night I learned all about the magic box of Valero’s “operating envelope” at their Benicia (San Francisco Bay Area) refinery during their public meeting for the proposed Crude Oil Rail Terminal.  Valero staff described the proposal to a packed audience, speaking cheerfully about bringing two 50-tanker car trains of crude oil in and out of Benicia each day. The friendly façade crumbled a little during the lengthy explanation to concerned community residents about the type of crude oil that could be coming in those tanker trains, confirming that they may carry dirty tar sands and volatile Bakken crude oil.

Valero - Feedstock Profile (any crude can fit in the blend box) (2).png

This slide from Valero’s presentation shows the magic box that bounds the density of the crude oil – the sludge factor, and the sulfur levels – aka the stink factor – of the crude oil that the Valero Benicia refinery is capable of handling.  It turns out though that the refinery can take a lot of different kinds of crude oil outside the magic yellow box; these are the yellow triangles.  The yellow triangles outside the magic box include both Bakken and tar sands crude oil.  That is to say that they can get the world’s dirtiest and most dangerous crude oils into the magic box of the refinery operating envelope by mixing them.  That’s right, they can brew up an exceptionally hazardous cocktail of tar sands sludge mixed with volatile Bakken crude oil to get inside the magic box.

So, Valero can take the sludgiest, highest stink crude oil and cut it with lighter oil.  Then, voila, they say there are no changes to the balance of sludge and stink in the crude oil refined.  Although this mix may look like the same old conventional crude oil according to Valero’s magic box theory, the reality is that this kind of blend of extreme crude oils creates the greatest public health hazards. Why? It retains the toxic heavy metal contamination from sludgy crudes and that comes out as air pollution; It is much harder to process, which means even more air pollution; it is unstable, prone to volatilizing toxic hydrocarbons like benzene; and it is highly corrosive, putting the refinery and infrastructure at greater risk of accidents.

Will Valero come clean with a real analysis of the public health, safety and environmental risks of the project when the draft Environmental Impact Report comes out next month? Or will they hide these impacts in magic boxes?

California Senate hearing on crude oil train safety, Wednesday 3/19

Repost from Contra Costa Times
Agenda – Joint Hearing on Emergency Response to Rail Accidents 3-19-14 CA Senate
Background – Joint Hearing on Emergency Response to Rail Accidents 3-19-14 CA Senate

Sacramento: Train accidents and emergency response subject of state Senate hearing

By Tom Lochner  Contra Costa Times
Posted:   03/18/2014 02:48:11 PM PDT | Updated:   84 min. ago

SACRAMENTO — Amid public concern over several train accidents and explosions in North America over the past year, and increased transport of crude oil into California by rail, two state Senate committees will hold a joint public hearing on emergency response to rail accidents on Wednesday.

In Northern California, much of the crude-by-rail is headed for Contra Costa County, home to four oil refineries. A fifth refinery is located in nearby Benicia.

There will be presentations by officials of several state agencies responsible for emergency response:

  • Office of Emergency Services
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Spill Prevention and Response
  • Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
  • Department of Toxic Substances Control
  • Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPAS), including the Sacramento County Environmental Management Department

The hearing, by the Environmental Quality and Natural Resources and Water committees, will be at 9:30 a.m. in the California State Capitol, Room 3191, in Sacramento.

Public participation is invited.

The hearing will be televised. More information is available at http://senate.ca.gov/tvschedule. {To access the video, go to this link, note the correct ROOM number – 3191, then click on “Listen To Rooms” at left.  Find the correct room number again, and click. – BenIndy editor RS]