For survivors in Lac-Mégantic, for all of us here – This Thursday, Planning Commission meeting – BE THERE!Benicia Independent Editor Roger Straw, July 7, 2014
A year ago, a runaway crude oil train exploded at 1am in downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47, virtually destroying their downtown, and fouling the land, air and the river running through town.
At that time here in Benicia, a group of residents were preparing an educational forum on the likely environmental impacts of Valero’s Crude By Rail (CBR) proposal. We had been calling for a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
The accident in Canada was a shocking eye-opener for those of us who were raising issues about Valero CBR. Not only would these 3/4-mile-long trains full of Bakken crude oil and/or tar sands dilbit present a threat to the environment during extraction and refining – we now knew for a fact that they would also bring a profound risk of massive spills and deadly explosions whenever one would derail.
It wasn’t long after the explosion in Canada that I began to think that the requirement of a full EIR was not enough; that our leaders in Benicia simply had to take courage and say NO. Our decision on Valero Crude By Rail here in our city of 27,000 affects the health and safety of millions uprail of here, from the extraction pits and fracking fields in the upper Midwest to communities all along the tracks. Residents, schools, commercial centers, mountain passes and protected wetlands are at risk of MORE than just damage – this threat goes to a risk of destruction, absolute loss.
Since Lac-Mégantic, there have been at least 8 other major derailments in North America, including 5 more with catastrophic explosions. The massive increase in crude by rail has dramatically increased the risk of accidental spills and deadly fires.
On this coming Thursday evening in Benicia’s City Hall, you are encouraged to join with our Planning Commission to express your questions and concerns related to Valero’s Draft EIR. (Agenda) This is a hearing that we have been calling for since last year at this time, a hearing that is crucial to our own health and safety, the health and safety of every worker in our Industrial Park, and to the well being of everyone uprail of Benicia. Please plan to attend. Details below.
Planning Commission Public Hearing on Valero Crude by Rail Draft Environmental Impact Report
Thurs, July 10, 7pm, Council Chambers, City Hall.
IMPORTANT – plan to attend. Let your voice be heard!
Click here for the agenda
Write to the City c/o Amy Million, Principal Planner, Community Development Department, City of Benicia, 250 East L Street, Benicia, CA 94510 (or by EMAIL to Amy.Million@ci.benicia.ca.us).