Category Archives: Truck transport

THE TRIBUNE, SAN LUIS OBISPO: Decision on Nipomo refinery’s oil-by-rail plan put off again

Repost from The Tribune, San Luis Obispo CA
[Editor:  Additional coverage: The Lompoc Record, “SLO County Planning Commission delays decision on oil trains, again”.  – RS]

Decision on Nipomo refinery’s oil-by-rail plan put off again

By Cynthia Lambert, September 22, 2016 6:55 PM
Phillips 66 hopes to extend a rail line to its Nipomo Mesa refinery, which would allow deliveries from three oil trains a week..
Phillips 66 hopes to extend a rail line to its Nipomo Mesa refinery, which would allow deliveries from three oil trains a week. Joe Johnston

After several more hours of public comment on a controversial oil-by-rail plan Thursday, San Luis Obispo County planning commissioners started to debate various conditions to approve the project, but they did not reach a decision.

Instead, the proposal by Phillips 66, which has been the subject of numerous Planning Commission meetings this year, will again be continued. It is scheduled to return Oct. 5.

In May, a move to deny the project failed on a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Jim Harrison, Jim Irving and Don Campbell voting “no.” The commission directed planning staff to return with conditions for approving the proposal to allow the oil company to build a 1.3-mile spur that would connect to the main rail line so the Nipomo Mesa refinery can get crude oil by rail.

The proposal calls for deliveries from three trains per week. Each train would have three locomotives and 80 rail cars to haul about 2.2 million gallons of crude oil.

It’s expected that any decision by the commission will be appealed to the county Board of Supervisors.

“I’m concerned that if we were to deny the project today without establishing conditions of approval for a smaller project with fewer trains and specific hours of operation, that this would leave a wide-open project for the Board of Supervisors to consider next year,” Irving said.

In the afternoon, the commission started working its way through a 33-page document of 97 conditions for the project, asking questions and making minor changes and additions.

Lisa Ritterbuck of Avila Beach

Commissioner Eric Meyer suggested the commission take a straw vote to see which way commissioners were leaning on the project.

Commissioner Ken Topping agreed, saying, “I think the public deserves to know where we stand individually.”

But Harrison pointed out that they had already taken one vote on the project in May.

Irving said his mind is not made up on the project, and he said he wants to look at it point by point and then make a decision.

“I know it drags it out more,” he said. “I know we are on our seventh hearing, but that’s the way I would like to proceed.”

The commission did not reach a consensus to take a straw vote.

Earlier this year, the Planning Commission held five days of hearings on the rail spur project that drew thousands of people from around the state, many opposing the project.

Phillips 66 has said oil production in California is dropping, and they need to bring crude oil by rail from other areas.

The refinery now receives crude oil by pipeline and by truck. The county found out about the trucking during the April 15 hearing on the project.

Planning staff has recommended a condition that would not allow any further trucking of crude oil on or off the refinery property with the approval of the rail spur project. Phillips 66 suggests that “trucking of coke (petroleum carbon) and sulfur from the refinery and delivery of feedstock, including crude oil, to the refinery shall be limited to an annual average maximum of 49 trucks per day.”

But the Planning Commission did not reach that condition — No. 33 out of the 97.

Devin Miller of Arroyo Grande

Earlier in the day, public comment was opened to allow people to speak on the new conditions of approval.

About 90 people spoke, with all but four opposed to the project. Most of the speakers live in the county, including more than two dozen Nipomo residents who suggested additional conditions to deal with air pollution, light and odor problems.

Paul Stolpman suggested that Phillips 66 shouldn’t be allowed to operate the three locomotive engines on days when county air officials predict the area will violate air quality standards.

Lisa Ritterbuck, who lives on an organic farm near Avila Beach, said, “I’m interested in safety, in renewable clean energy and in being a good steward of our environment. This project compromises all three of those interests.”

The few supporters who spoke Thursday said there’s a need for the product the refinery is processing.

“One way or another, this oil is going to get to the refinery,” said Devin Miller of Arroyo Grande. “But is hundreds of trucks driving down the highway any safer than just a few trains and a small rail terminal?”

He added that the families of Phillips 66 employees also live in the community.

“Why would they endanger those people?” he asked.

Mike Brown, government affairs director for the Coalition of Labor Agriculture & Business of San Luis Obispo County, also reiterated his support.

“What you’re being asked to do is deny the project on all these potential uptrack incidents that have a very small overall statistical chance,” Brown said. “… You can’t make these decisions based on emotion.”

By the end of the hearing, the Planning Commission had reached condition No. 17 before adjourning at 5 p.m. Public comment will not be reopened at the October hearing.

Phillips 66 oil-by-rail project may be in jeopardy – deadline Aug 15

Repost from The Tribune, San Luis Obispo

Phillips 66 oil-by-rail project may be in jeopardy

By David Sneed, July 22, 2016 8:06pm

• Oil company faces Aug. 15 deadline to pay $240,000 in fees and supply information or SLO County will withdraw the application
• County also is critical of Phillips 66’s recent decision to begin trucking crude oil to the Nipomo Mesa refinery
• It is unclear whether a Sept. 22 Planning Commission hearing on the rail project will take place

The Phillips 66 refinery on the Nipomo Mesa has been trucking in oil since February as it continues to pursue a plan to accept oil by rail.
The Phillips 66 refinery on the Nipomo Mesa has been trucking in oil since February as it continues to pursue a plan to accept oil by rail. Joe Johnston Tribune

A controversial proposal by the Phillips 66 oil company to bring crude oil by rail to its Nipomo Mesa refinery is at a crossroads.

The oil company has been given an Aug. 15 deadline to give the San Luis Obispo County department of planning and building additional information about the project — the company wants to install a rail spur connecting the refinery with the main line — and to pay more than $240,000 in fees or the project application will be withdrawn.

In a July 8 letter to the company, county supervising planner Ryan Hostetter wrote, “This letter serves to inform Phillips 66 that without the necessary information and funding, the county cannot complete processing the application as directed by the Planning Commission.”

As of July 22, the county had received only part of the information it has requested and none of the money, Hostetter said.

Phillips 66’s proposal to build the spur so it can bring in three trains per week, each carrying 2.2 million gallons of crude oil, has faced a storm of opposition. Communities on the rail line across California have weighed in, many saying they feared a disastrous derailment.

Phillips 66 did not respond directly to questions by The Tribune on Friday as to whether the company plans to meet the county’s Aug. 15 deadline to pay the fees and provide the missing information. Instead, it sent this statement:

“Phillips 66 presented a strong proposal, and we remain confident about the project,” the statement said. “We understand and respect the review and approval process with the county, and look forward to the next step in the EIR process.”

The county has also informed Phillips 66 that its recent decision to truck oil directly into the refinery is likely a violation of the county’s permit and will require a new permit as well as a trucking plan detailing the new oil-by-truck method. The refinery has been receiving crude oil by pipeline. The county found out about the trucking during an April 15 Planning Commission hearing on the rail spur project.

“Bringing in crude by truck is a modification of the refinery and, additionally, may have the potential to cause significant impacts,” Hostetter said in a June 30 letter to Phillips 66.

The refinery’s maintenance supervisor, James Anderson, responded to the county in a letter dated July 14 in which he denied the assertions that the trucking of oil is a modification of the refinery and disputes the notion that a trucking plan is required. The letter refers to the refinery’s official name, the Santa Maria Refinery.

“Phillips 66 does not need any new permits or modifications to its existing permits to deliver feedstocks by truck to SMR (Santa Maria Refinery) in the manner in which it is currently performed,” Anderson’s letter stated. “Such activity has been a long-standing practice, albeit intermittent, and is not part of the rail extension project.”

Hostetter said the July 14 letter answered some but not all of the county’s questions. No deadline was given for providing the information.

“They are not sitting on it, but we need more information to make a formal call on whether trucking is an allowed use or if they need a new permit,” Hostetter said.

Anderson’s letter went on to give some details about the refinery’s recent oil-by-truck activities:

▪ It began in February.
▪ The number of truck trips per day has ranged from 1 to 25.
▪ Trucks generally hold up to 150 barrels of oil. A barrel contains 42 gallons.
▪ The oil is delivered into an existing pipeline via a flexible hose.
▪ The oil generally originates within California.

Phillips 66 has proposed installing a 1.3-mile rail spur connecting to the main line as a way to expand its sources of crude oil and continue to support the 200 employees who work at the Nipomo refinery. The proposal calls for deliveries from three trains per week; each train would have three locomotives and 80 rail cars to haul 2.2 million gallons of crude oil.

Earlier this year, the county Planning Commission held five full days of hearings that drew thousands of people from around California. The commission has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 22, at which a final decision could be made.

At its most recent hearing, the commission asked for a variety of additional information from Phillips 66, such as how many trains per year would arrive at the refinery under the three-trains-per-week scenario, how many trains could arrive in one day and what impact that would have on air quality around the refinery.

Few of those questions have been answered. Whether the commission even has a Sept. 22 hearing and whether it will be able to make a final decision if a hearing is held, depends on how much additional funding and information Phillips 66 provides, Hostetter said. For example, the company has proposed only funding the project through the Planning Commission phase but not through the likely appeal to the Board of Supervisors.

County policy requires that development applicants pay all the county’s costs in processing their permit, including the cost to hire consultants and write an environmental impact report. The county has estimated the cost of processing the application through the Board of Supervisors appeal hearing to be $240,697.73.

If the county withdraws the application, Phillips 66 could reapply at a later date.

DERAILMENT: Callaway MN train semi-truck collision leads to propane explosion, evacuation

Repost from FOX 9, Eden Prairie MN
[Editor:  It was the truck carrying propane that exploded, not the train. Firefighters let it burn into the night.  Derailed train cars ended up very near another stationary propane tank, but did not hit it.  – RS]

Railroad: Video shows propane truck never stopped for train in Callaway, Minn.

POSTED: MAR 25 2016 02:29PM CDT, UPDATED: 02:38PM CDT

CALLAWAY, Minn. (KMSP) – Canadian Pacific Railway says its onboard video shows a propane tanker truck never stopped and pulled out in front of the train before Thursday’s fiery crash in Callaway, Minnesota. The northwestern Minnesota town of 200 people was evacuated as a precaution until the order was lifted at 10 a.m. Friday morning.

The crash happened at approximately 12:25 p.m. Thursday near Highway 59. Canadian Pacific said 11 empty train cars and one locomotive derailed as a result of the crash. None of the cars were carrying hazardous materials and none of the train cars caught on fire. The railroad said its train crew sounded the locomotive’s horn as the train approached the crossing.

Railroad: Video shows propane truck never stopped for train in Callaway, Minn.

Two members of the train crew sustained non-life-threatening injuries and were both taken to Essentia Hospital in Detroit Lakes, where they were treated and released Thursday afternoon.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will travel to Callaway on Saturday to visit the crash site and meet with railroad and community leaders.

Overnight explosion

Shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday, the propane tank at the scene exploded, sending a fireball into the air. No injuries were reported. According to the Becker County sheriff: “On March 24 at approximately 10:17 p.m., fire department crews were tending the propane tanker fire on the south side of the city of Callaway, Minn. At this time the tank failed causing immediate evacuation of all contents. All personnel at the scene were accounted for and uninjured.”

Cleanup progress

Canadian Pacific said its crews were able to access the site starting Thursday evening and began the process of clearing the rail line. Six railcars were moved to the side, while 5 were re-railed. Early Friday morning, engineering personnel began replacing track, and the first train passed through the site at 10:15 a.m. Friday.

Exxon seeks to use trucks to haul oil after pipeline break

Repost from KSBW News, Santa Barbara CA

Exxon seeks to use trucks to haul oil after pipeline break

Associated Press, Jun 05, 2015 1:06 PM PDT
Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, KSBW

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. —An oil company wants to use tanker trucks to haul oil through Santa Barbara County while a pipeline that spilled crude into the Pacific Ocean last month is out of commission.

Exxon Mobil officials have told county officials they want to use a fleet of 5,000-gallon tankers for the job, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Kevin Drude, head of the county’s energy division, said the company proposes to have trucks use Highway 101 daily, around the clock at a rate of eight trucks an hour to get the oil moving to refineries.

Exxon Mobil normally moves crude from three offshore platforms through more than 10 miles of pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline.

The movement has been stopped since the pipe ruptured on May 19 and released up to 101,000 gallons west of Santa Barbara. Thousands of gallons flowed down a culvert under Highway 101 and into the ocean at Refugio State Beach.

The trucking proposal is seen as risky by environmentalists.

“We don’t want another disaster,” said Linda Krop, chief counsel for the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center.

Glenn Russell, county planning and development director, said his staff will review the proposal and make a decision by Monday. He said he expects a similar request from another oil company, Freeport-McMoRan, which has also been affected by the pipeline shutdown.

Cleanup and investigations into corrosion that resulted in the failure of the pipe have been underway since the spill and there’s no timetable for putting the pipeline back in service.

Exxon Mobil would use the trucks until the pipeline is operational again, said company spokesman Richard Keil.

“We need to move our product by truck to serve the energy needs of Californians and the demands of the refineries we supply,” he said.

Exxon reduced oil production from 30,000 to 8,500 barrels a day and is storing the crude in tanks at Las Flores Canyon near the coast highway.

Russell said the company now has two weeks’ worth of storage space left.