Author Archives: stopcbr

GOOD NEWS! – VALERO CBR IS DEAD!

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We did it! Opponents of Valero’s oil train proposal gathered in City Hall on the night of Benicia’s historic vote to STOP crude by rail. September 20, 2016. Photo by Emily Jovais.

From the Benicia Independent, by Roger Straw, September 21, 2016

Surprise unanimous vote – no to oil trains in Benicia!

Valero’s dirty and dangerous proposal to bring in Bakken and Tar Sands crude oil on trains from North Dakota and Canada is dead.

Opponents of the proposal worried and wondered for months whether a 3rd swing vote could be found on Benicia’s 5-member City Council.  On Tuesday night, the wondering came to a sudden fairy tale conclusion: a unanimous vote to deny the land use permit and stop the project dead in its “tracks.”

beniciacitycouncil_2016-09-20

Benicia City Council, September 20, 2016. Photo by Constance Beutel.

Benicia’s City Council vote follows a February unanimous vote of the Benicia Planning Commission to deny the project. Valero appealed the February decision to the Council, then received a six month delay to request backing from the federal Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Board (STB).

On Tuesday night, following a motion to deny by Council member Tom Campbell and seconded by Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, Council members Christina Strawbridge, Alan Schwartzman and Mark Hughes all expressed mounting concerns about on-site health, safety and environmental concerns. City staff was directed to revise it’s resolution to deny the project, and to return for a final vote on October 4. [NOTE: A revised version of the resolution was presented at the 9/20/16 Council meeting, taking into account a late-breaking same-day Surface Transportation Board decision. The revised version is not yet available in digital format on the City's website as of this reporting.]

Which brings us to the OTHER SURPRISING, BREAKING NEWS:

Earlier on Tuesday, September 20, the same day as Benicia’s City Council meeting, the Surface Transportation Board issued a statement denying Valero’s petition for a declaratory order. On May 31, Valero submitted a petition asking the STB to rule that the Benicia Planning Commission’s unanimous February 11 decision denying Valero’s oil train proposal is preempted by federal law. In effect, yesterday the STB denied Valero’s petition for declaratory order.

“The Board finds here that there is no preemption because the Planning Commission’s decision does not attempt to regulate transportation by a “rail carrier.” The Board’s jurisdiction extends to rail-related activities that take place at transloading (or, as here, off-loading) facilities if the activities are performed by a rail carrier, the rail carrier holds out its own service through a third party that acts as the rail carrier’s agent, or the rail carrier exerts control over the third party’s operations.8 The record presented to the Board in this case, however, does not demonstrate that Valero is a rail carrier or that it is performing transportation-related activities on behalf of UP or any other rail carrier at its off-loading facility.”

Citing arguably similar case law, the STB repeatedly points out that Valero is not a “rail carrier” and that Valero would not be “performing offloading under the auspices of a rail carrier.”

Further, the STB rules that “Valero has not demonstrated that the Planning Commission’s decisions unreasonably interfere with Union Pacific’s common carrier operations.” Under federal law, “accordingly, this situation…does not reflect undue interference with ‘transportation by rail carriers’ within the Board’s jurisdiction.”

The STB ruling also provided guidance on the issue of preemption as it applies to any mitigations and conditions of approval that directly impact rail operations. The ruling strongly restated federal preemptory powers on any mitigation measures or conditions of approval that would “regulate Union Pacific’s rail operations on its lines.” But it went on to say, “State and local regulation is permissible where it does not unreasonably interfere with rail transportation….Localities retain their reserved police powers to protect the public health and safety so long as their actions do not discriminate against rail carriers or unreasonably burden interstate commerce. For example, local electrical, plumbing, and fire codes are generally applicable.”

The STB’s guidance continues, “State and local action, however, must not have the effect of foreclosing or unduly restricting the rail carrier’s ability to conduct its operations or otherwise unreasonably burden interstate commerce.” And finally, “If the offloading facility were eventually to be constructed but the EIR or the land use permit, or both, included mitigation conditions unreasonably interfering with UP’s future operations to the facility, any attempt to enforce such mitigation measures would be preempted…”

The exact definition or meaning of “foreclosing or unduly restricting” and “unreasonably interfering with” was not spelled out in yesterday’s STB ruling.


Archive copy…

OIL TRAIN EXPLOSION IN OREGON!
DEMONSTRATION IN BENICIA TUESDAY, JUNE 7 5:45PM
East 2nd & Military
Benicia Awareness and Action!

Everyone said it would happen again soon.
Well, last Friday was “The Next BIG ONE” …
… and one more is one too many!

mosier-oil-train-derailment-f-060302016(350)

We heard the news over the weekend that another train derailed and exploded in Mosier, Oregon alongside the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. Mosier Fire Chief Jim Appleton said “I hope this becomes the death knell for this mode of shipping. I think it’s insane.” Appleton had previously assured his community that UP had a great safety record and rail accidents were rare. He has changed his mind. The foam to put out the fire could not be used for the first 10 hours after the spill because the metal cars were too hot. Appleton said “That was kind of an eye opener for me.“ He said that if it had happened a day earlier in strong winds, all of the 96 cars could have easily caught on fire.

At 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, join us at the corner of East 2nd & Military in Benicia to protest the growing presence of explosive Bakken crude oil trains in the U.S. and Canada. Together, we will call attention to the role that Benicia might play in future explosions like the one that took place today, should the City permit Valero Refinery to build a crude-by-rail offloading facility here.

NxtBigOneProtest-MosierOR-2016-06-07

Valero Benicia wants to bring Bakken crude oil trains to our town. This same disaster could happen here, or anywhere along the rails on the way to our small city.

Benicia’s great opportunity in coming months is for our City Council to join with our Planning Commission to say a firm NO THANKS to Valero. STOP Crude by Rail!

Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community
(707) 742-3597
info@SafeBenicia.org
http://safebenicia.org/


UPDATE ON APRIL 7:

FINAL VOTE ON VALERO CRUDE BY RAIL – HEARINGS TO CONTINUE MONDAY, APRIL 18, YOUR LETTERS STILL WELCOME

Council heard public comments on April 4 and 6, and will be open to additional spoken comments on Monday, April 18.  Your written comments are welcome between now and the close of comments. Council is likely to conclude public comments during the meeting on April 18 and begin deliberations. A vote could occur that night, or on a final scheduled meeting the next night, Tuesday, April 19.  All meetings are at 7pm at City Hall. Plan to attend all if you can – we want to show our strong opposition to these dirty and dangerous oil trains. THIS IS THE FINAL SERIES OF HEARINGS – IMPORTANT!

To send a letter to the City, see our TAKE ACTION! page.

To see previous public comments, including expert reports and analyses, check out the Benicia Independent’s Project Review page.


UPDATE ON MARCH 21:

FINAL HEARINGS ON VALERO CRUDE BY RAIL – NEXT ON MONDAY APRIL 4

  • Benicia City Council began hearing Valero’s appeal of the Planning Commission’s unanimous denial of Crude by Rail on Tuesday, March 15 at 7pm at City Hall, 250 East L St. City staff, the Planning Commission and Valero made presentations and Council members raised questions.
  • Valero surprised everyone at the March 15 hearing by asking for a delay in the hearings while it submits a petition to the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB), requesting a declarative action regarding preemption. Valero and City staff have agreed on an unsettled interpretation of federal law that prevents local, regional and state governments from taking action to regulate rail operations. Opposing attorneys have pointed out that the City has every right (and responsibility) to regulate a refinery. Valero is not a railroad, and the health and safety of Benicia, Benicia’s Industrial Park, and consideration for communities uprail from Benicia are protected under Benicia’s General Plan, Municipal Code and California law. Valero’s delay tactic is being characterized as unnecessary interference in local politics.
  • Council set dates for continuing public hearings: Monday, April 4, Wednesday, April 6, Monday, April 18 and Tuesday, April 19, all at 7pm at City Hall. Note that these dates for public hearings are NOT CONSECUTIVE EVENINGS as was the case in previous hearings. Plan to attend them all if you can. Please attend to show our strong opposition to these dirty and dangerous oil trains. THIS IS THE FINAL SERIES OF HEARINGS – IMPORTANT!
  • Sign the petition if you haven’t already done so.
  • Write to Benicia’s City Council members.  Send your email to City Planner Amy Million at amillion@ci.benicia.ca.us.  Be sure to note that your comments are “for the public record on Valero Crude By Rail.”
  • Benicians For a Safe and Healthy Community needs your help. Please see our Facebook page and other pages on this website.

PLANNING COMMISSIONERS STOP VALERO’S DIRTY AND DANGEROUS PROPOSAL, BUT WE’RE NOT DONE YET!

On Feb. 11, 2016, the Benicia Planning Commission voted unanimously to deny the land use permit for the proposed Valero oil train terminal.  Valero can appeal the decision to the Benicia City Council.

“The unanimous vote by the Planning Commission to reject this deeply flawed environmental review is a vindication of the concerns that people in the community have had since this project was first proposed. It took three years of work in the community to build public pressure. The Planning Commission was thorough and methodological in their deliberation. The message to the city council is absolutely clear – they must reject this proposal and reevaluate how much trust they can put in their own staff and city attorney.”  - Andres Soto, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community


PREVIOUSLY (PAST EVENTS)

PLANNING COMMISSIONERS STOP VALERO’S DIRTY AND DANGEROUS PROPOSAL, BUT WE’RE NOT DONE YET!

On Feb. 11, 2016, the Benicia Planning Commission voted unanimously to deny the land use permit for the proposed Valero oil train terminal.  Valero can appeal the decision to the Benicia City Council.

“The unanimous vote by the Planning Commission to reject this deeply flawed environmental review is a vindication of the concerns that people in the community have had since this project was first proposed. It took three years of work in the community to build public pressure. The Planning Commission was thorough and methodological in their deliberation. The message to the city council is absolutely clear – they must reject this proposal and reevaluate how much trust they can put in their own staff and city attorney.”  - Andres Soto, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community


BIG EVENT CONTINUED WEDNESDAY, (and maybe Thurs!). FINAL HEARINGS – PLAN TO ATTEND!

IF YOU WERE SIGNED UP TO SPEAK BUT WERE UNABLE TO ATTEND A PREVIOUS MEETING, YOU WILL BE ALLOWED TO SPEAK TONIGHT!  COME BACK AND TRY AGAIN!

After nearly 3 years of strong local and regional opposition and warnings from a host of experts and officials, Valero’s reckless proposal is going to the Benicia Planning Commission for final hearings and a vote.  Our city staff has actually recommended approval!  YOU are needed! Plan now to attend.  Bodies count, even if you don’t speak at the event!

Where:   Benicia City Council Chambers | 250 East L St. Benicia
When:     Feb. 8, gather at 5:00pm, hearings start 6:30pm
RSVP:      bit.ly/SafeBenicia
PETITION:  Over 1300 of you have already signed the Safe Benicia petition.  If you have not yet signed, please do so now.  Go to bit.ly/StopValeroOilTrains.  Add your personal comments or just push the button.

The City has UPDATED it’s “sign-up to speak” policy:

  1. After 8:30am on Feb. 8, you may PHONE in your request to speak at the public hearing: 707) 746-4280.
  2. You may sign up yourself AND family members or friends who are unable to be present to sign up.
  3. You don’t even need to give your name, address, etc.

PLAN AHEAD: There will very likely be AT LEAST THREE EVENINGS of hearings.  Set aside time TODAY (and on Thursday in case you don’t get to speak today).  See details below about the meetings.  Many of us will attend each night, in anticipation of Commissioners’ final comments and the vote.

PREPARE!

A THIRD HEARING will be held on Wednesday, February 10 at 6:30pm.  AN ADDITIONAL MEETING is scheduled to hear public comment on Thursday, February 11 at 6:30 pm. The Thursday meeting will be held only if needed. If all public comment is provided and the Planning Commission takes action, the agenda item will be closed and the additional meeting(s) will be cancelled.

IF YOU WISH TO COMMENT DURING THE HEARING
The City is instituting a sign up system in order to speak during the public hearings. According to the City’s website, you will be “allowed to speak in order of sign up. Sign ups will be available on the day of the meeting(s) from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Community Development Department. If you are unable to come in person, please call 707-746-4280 to be added to the list. At the hearing, please go to the sign up table just outside of the Council Chambers. Your name will be called in the order in which you signed up. You do not have to sign up in order to speak.  However, you will not be called on until those who have signed up have spoken.  In order to accommodate the public, we have arranged for overflow rooms in City Hall with the hearing streaming for you to view and listen. You can also view the event live from the City’s website.”


OCTOBER 2015 PUBLIC HEARING NOW CLOSED
on Valero Crude by Rail Revised DEIR

IMPORTANT NOTE: All speakers were heard at the first Planning Commission hearing on Tues., Sept 29, so all previously scheduled additional hearings have been cancelled.
THERE WILL BE NO HEARINGS on Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct. 8.
Your WRITTEN thoughts and comments still welcome – see TAKE ACTION!


PAST EVENTS …

PUBLIC HEARING
on Valero Crude by Rail Revised DEIR

Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 5:30pm
Benicia City Hall, 250 E L St., Benicia
Revised environmental report on
Valero Crude by Rail

PLEASE ATTEND!  Let our decision makers know that this proposal is not good for Benicia, not good for California, not good for the world.  TALKING POINTS.

On August 31, the City of Benicia released a REVISED Draft Environmental Impact Report.  The new document, available online, extends its analysis further uprail than the earlier document – taking into account environmental impacts beyond Roseville, all the way to the California border, and supposedly beyond to the point of origin (in the fracking fields of North Dakota and the strip mines in Alberta Canada).

The document states clearly that Valero’s project would …

  • result in greenhouse gas emissions that are “significant and unavoidable”
  • conflict with California state directives and regional air authority standards
  • and result in significant, unavoidable and unmitigatable potential hazards from crashes and spills:  “Because no reasonable, feasible mitigation measures are available that would, if implemented, reduce the significance below the established threshold, this secondary hazards- and hazardous materials-related impact would be significant and unavoidable.”

That’s the good news.  The not-so-good news is that the project can still be permitted, and we need more than ever to voice our disapproval.

  1. Plan now to attend the Planning Commission’s public hearing on September 29, at City Hall in the Council Chambers.  The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30pm, but in order to get a seat, you should plan to arrive around 5:30pm.
  2. Write a letter with your thoughts on the health and safety issues that threaten our beautiful small town.  Send your letter to the local news media AND to the City of Benicia.  For help in writing and addresses. etc., check our Take Action page.

Please tell us you are coming on Sept. 29 – Facebook Event page. (RSVP definitely NOT required!)


…Background for new readers…

For the past two years, local and regional citizens have been fighting to stop the Benicia Valero Refinery’s proposal to  transport 100 cars of dirty and explosive crude oil daily from the Bakken fracking fields of North Dakota and the tar-sands strip mines of Canada.  So far, we have been able to hold off this dangerous and foolish project.  But we need your help for the final push!

No more exploding trains. No more tar sands, no more Bakken.  No more Climate Catastrophe!  Join with us on September 29, 2015.  We raise our voices in a democratic show of concern, presenting our message to decision-makers who hold the power to protect health and safety now and for generations to come!

Additional background:
There have been five explosive derailments in the U.S. and Canada just this year, including:

  • Heimdal, North Dakota
  • Two separate crashes near Gogama, Ontario, Canada
  • Mount Carbon, West Virginia and
  • Galena, Illinois

In July of 2013, a train carrying explosive Bakken crude oil from North Dakota derailed causing the deaths of 47 people in Lac Mégantic, Quebec.  Between then and April 2014, there were four additional explosive derailments of Bakken crude in North America:

  • Aliceville, Alabama
  • Casselton, North Dakota
  • New Brunswick, Canada, and
  • Lynchburg, Virginia

Because Valero plans to bring Bakken crude oil to Benicia, this same disaster could happen here, or anywhere along the way to our small city.

Volatile Bakken crude isn’t all – Valero also plans to ship crude oil sourced from the incredibly dirty Canadian tar-sands strip mines in Alberta, further fouling the earth, waters and atmosphere and contributing to global warming.  Tar-sands trains have also derailed and caught fire.

Benicia’s great opportunity in coming months is to say a firm NO THANKS to our friends at Valero, and to wish them well in our shared future of clean and renewable energy.
Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community
(707) 742-3597
Email: info@SafeBenicia.org
Website: http://safebenicia.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stopcrudebyrail

More: The Benicia Independent


PAST EVENTS …

Bay Area Air Quality District
hosting informational meeting
in Benicia

Thursday, September 17, 2015, 6-8pm
Robert Semple Elementary School
2015 East 3rd Street,  Benicia

Despite years of effort by Bay Area refinery communities like Benicia, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District staff has once again ignored community concerns and refused to place quantifiable emissions limits on Bay Area refineries in their proposed new “emissions” rules.

This “Open House” format is designed to minimize public input on these rules due to the highly critical reception Air District staff received earlier this year from informed Benicia residents.

Please attend this “Open House” and let the BAAQMD staff know you are dissatisfied with their proposed rules and that we expect them to serve us and not the oil industry in our effort to clean up local air quality. Please share the comments on the CBE handout with the staff and demand real refinery emissions reductions.


Benicia Torchlight Parade
Friday, July 3, 5:30pm, East B Street

projections_announcement3

USflag02(sm)Benicia’s Independence Day parade stretches along First Street and includes dancers, floats, clowns, entertainment – and again this year, our own passionate call for health and safety in Benicia.  Join us on Friday, July 3, 2015, 5:30 pm, as we march in the annual Benicia Torchlight Parade to stop oil trains in Benicia, California!  Gather at the east end of East B Street, just outside the Marina office.

After the parade, join Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community and the San Francisco Projections Department for spectacular light projections at dusk/dark, near the State Capitol.  Gather on First Street around 8:30pm for the show.

For the past two years, local and regional citizens have been fighting to stop the Benicia Valero Refinery’s proposal to  transport 100 cars of explosive crude daily from the Bakken Fracking Fields of North Dakota.  So far, we have been able to hold off this dangerous and foolish project.  But we need your help for the final push!

Honoring the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and it’s rallying cry to end tyrannical rule, we are marching in the parade to let the politicians sitting in the viewing stand know that this project is unacceptable!

No more exploding trains. No more tar sands. No more Bakken.  No more Climate Catastrophe!  March with us on July 3, 2015, a truly effective way of getting our message to those who need to hear it!

Please tell us you are coming on the Facebook Event page(RSVP definitely NOT required!)

…This event is part of nationwide Stop Oil Train WEEK OF ACTION, commemorating Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, where 47 dear ones lost their lives following a Bakken Bomb Train explosion.


The Benicia Independent published the following report on our May 7 Rally:

May 7, 2015 – Another Oil Train Just Exploded!
Rally for Awareness.  Oil train explosion in Heimdal, North Dakota on May 6, 2015.  Don’t let this happen in Benicia … or anywhere uprail of Benicia on account of Benicia!  (Story below.)

Another Oil Train Just Exploded - Heimdal ND.  Rally in City Park, Benicia CA, May 7, 2015

Another Oil Train Just Exploded – Heimdal ND. Rally in City Park, Benicia CA, May 7, 2015. Photo: Chris Riley — Vallejo Times-Herald

In March 2015, the Steering Committee of Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community (BSHC) adopted a Plan for the Day After the Next BIG ONE.   When news broke on May 6 of the derailment and explosion in Heimdal, North Dakota, the plan was implemented.  On the day of the explosion, members hastily sent out email invitations to the media and to the extensive BSHC mailing list, calling for a Rally for Awareness on the “Day After.”

In the evening of May 6, Benicia residents gathered an created a huge banner reading, “Another Oil Train Just Exploded!  Don’t Let This Happen In Benicia!”

Banner - Awareness after derailment and explosion in Heimdal, ND, May 6, 2015

Banner – Awareness after derailment and explosion in Heimdal, ND, May 6, 2015

May 7 was a Wednesday, so the short-notice turnout was light.  Still, 21 of us gathered in City Park on a weekday morning, and two news media reps showed up.  BSHC spokesperson Andrés Soto spoke, as did Marilyn Bardet and several rally attendees.  Passing cars honked and gave thumbs-up, pedestrians stopped to talk and to offer encouragement and thanks.  The photo above appeared in the Vallejo Times-Herald.

STAY TUNED – regrettably, there will be another Next Big One.  The Plan for the Day After will undoubtedly need to be exercised again in coming weeks or months.  To be added to BSHC’s email notification list, go to SafeBenicia.org.


THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2015, 11:45 a.m.

Oil Train Derails, Explodes in North Dakota -
Rally for Benicia Awareness and Action!
CITY PARK, FIRST & MILITARY, BENICIA, 11:45 a.m.

Everyone said it would happen again soon.
Well, Wednesday, May 6 was “The Next BIG ONE” …
… and one more is one too many!

Heimdal, North Dakota, 2015-05-06

Heimdal, North Dakota, 2015-05-06

We heard all-too-familiar news this morning – that an oil train derailed and exploded in North Dakota.  Only this time, it was just four days after the Department of Transportation released new rules for trains hauling hazardous crude oil. Residents of the town of Heimdal, North Dakota were evacuated and warned about smoke inhalation.  Thankfully, as of this writing, no one was injured or killed, but lives are upset, the land and air are fouled, and rainwater is gathering in an intermittent nearby waterway known as the Big Slough, which feeds into the James River 15 miles downstream.

At 11:45 a.m. Thursday, join us in City Park, First & Military in Benicia to protest the growing presence of explosive Bakken crude oil trains in the U.S. and Canada.  Together, we will call attention to the role that Benicia may (or may not) play in future explosions like the one that took place today, should the City permit Valero Refinery to build a crude-by-rail offloading facility here.

banthebombtrains350 Today’s explosion in North Dakota is the fifth explosive derailment that has occurred in the U.S. and Canada this year, including these previous accidents in 2015:

  • Gogama, Ontario Canada
  • Mount Carbon, West Virginia
  • Galena, Illinois and
  • Another one in Gogama, Ontario, Canada.

Since July of 2013, when a train carrying explosive Bakken crude oil from North Dakota derailed causing the deaths of 47 people in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, there have been four additional explosive derailments of Bakken crude in North America:

  • Aliceville, Alabama in November, 2013
  • Casselton, North Dakota in December of 2013
  • New Brunswick, Canada in January of 2014, and
  • Lynchburg, Virginia in April of 2014.

Because Valero plans to bring Bakken crude oil to Benicia, this same disaster could happen here, or anywhere along the way to our small city.

Benicia’s great opportunity in coming months is to say a firm NO THANKS to our friends at Valero, and to wish them well in our shared future of clean and renewable energy.


                                          …yard sign stolen or vandalized?  See here…Yard sign
 

 PAST EVENT: Community Forum & Update, Jan. 18, 2015
SEE VIDEO OF FORUM SPEAKERS ON YOUTUBE (Many thanks to Constance Beutel!)

    • Learn more about Valero’s crude by rail project and how it might affect Benicia residents at a Community Informational Forum on Sunday, January 18, 2015, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at the Benicia Public Library, 150 East L Street, Doña Benicia Room. The Forum is sponsored by Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community (BSHC), a grassroots advocacy organization working to STOP crude by rail in Benicia.
    • You’ll hear from guest speakers:
      • Antonia Juhasz, oil and energy analyst, award-winning author and investigative journalist,
      • and Diane Bailey, Senior Scientist in the Health and Environment Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
    • Members of BSHC will also provide an update on our work.
      • Marilyn Bardet will discuss the history and status of the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).
      • Andrés Soto will discuss the local, regional and cumulative impacts of transporting crude oil by rail. There will be plenty of time for questions, discussion and brainstorming.
    • Join and share this event on Facebook: facebook.com/events/1559893007591648/
    • For more information about the Community Forum or BSHC, please call (707) 742-3597, or email info@SafeBenicia.  More information on Valero Crude by Rail here on SafeBenicia.org and at BeniciaIndependent.org.

The Public Comment period on Valero’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) closed on Monday, September 15.  YOUR VOICE IS STILL IMPORTANT!  Learn more, get a yard sign, write a letter!  Go to our Learn More page AND check out The Benicia Independent where you can read Project Documents and Project Reviews.

ONGOING EVENTS


PLEASE HELP US RAISE MONEY to organize concerned citizens of Benicia to oppose this dangerous project that Valero is proposing. We need support with printing flyers, mailers and miscellaneous costs. Your GOFUNDME contribution will make a world of difference to our grassroots organization of Benicia residents.  Another way to help: Like our logo?  Here’s our STORE CafePress_BSHC_190(cafepress.com/safebenicia) where you can buy our stuff, and support our cause with a few bucks!  Thank you!!  Contact Us: BENICIANS FOR A SAFE AND HEALTHY COMMUNITY – P.O. Box 622, Benicia, CA 94510 - (707) 742-3597.

 

Has someone stolen or vandalized your yard sign?

Repost from Stop Crude By Rail on Facebook

ORDER A REPLACEMENT HERE

Stop Crude By Rail yardsignStop Crude by Rail yard signs and posters are being stolen off of personal property and vandalized at a pretty high rate in Benicia. Pretty bad behavior. Police reports have been made and we will replace any signs that have been taken. We have also reported this to the Benicia City Council – here is the video of that report.

If you would like a replacement of your sign or a new yard sign, please email Benicians For a Safe and Healthy Community at info@SafeBenicia.org.

Andres Soto speaking at Benicia City Council, 2014-08-26

Vandalized large wooden sign, West Military and Southampton, Benicia CA

KPIX report on Lac-Mégantic & Bay Area dangerous crude

Explosion Survivor Warns Of Fracked Oil Trains; Newer Safety Regulations Delayed

March 6, 2014 7:07 PM
Christin Ayers, reporter for KPIX 5 Eyewitness News
KPIX5/AP

Firefighters douse blazes after a freight train loaded with oil derailed in Lac-Megantic in Canada's Quebec province on July 6, 2013, sparking explosions that engulfed about 30 buildings in fire. At least 80 people are missing after a driverless oil tanker train derailed and exploded in the small Canadian town of Lac-Megantic, destroying dozens of buildings, a firefighter back from the scene told AFP. AFP PHOTO / François Laplante-Delagrave (Photo credit should read François Laplante-Delagrave/AFP/Getty Images)

Firefighters douse blazes after a freight train loaded with oil derailed in Lac-Megantic in Canada’s Quebec province on July 6, 2013, sparking explosions that engulfed about 30 buildings in fire. At least 80 people are missing after a driverless oil tanker train derailed and exploded in the small Canadian town of Lac-Megantic, destroying dozens of buildings, a firefighter back from the scene told AFP. Photo: François Laplante-Delagrave/AFP/Getty Images

(KPIX 5/AP) — A woman who lived through one of the deadliest train derailments ever hopes her experience serves as a wake-up call about allowing highly-volatile fracked crude oil to be transported by rail – as has been proposed in the Bay Area.

Thursday in Washington, a Senate transportation panel grilled federal railroad officials over delays in drafting new safety regulations in light of recent deadly oil and commuter train accidents.

Railroads are also taking too long to implement safety improvements Congress ordered under legislation passed seven years ago, lawmakers said at the hearing.

Meanwhile, a report released Thursday by Canadian regulators said the crude from the Bakken region of North Dakota is as volatile as gasoline. The derailment of a train carrying this oil last July in Lac-Megantic, Quebec created an inferno that destroyed much of the town center.

KPIX 5 spoke to a Marlaine Savard who was just a few miles away when the train carrying 30-thousand gallons of fracked crude derailed.

“We knew for sure that people were dying,” said Savard.

47 people were killed in the disaster. The toxic mess left behind will take years to clean up. “It’s like 50 football fields that are really highly contaminated,”she said.

Last week, federal regulators issued emergency regulations that require shippers to test crude coming from the Bakken region to make sure it’s properly classified while banning certain older-model tanker cars.

But they still haven’t issued any new rules for the much more common tank cars that exploded in Quebec.

Bay Area refineries are still receiving most of their crude by ship and pipeline, but experts warn that could soon change.

“This is the refining center of the western U.S.,” said Greg Karras with the advocacy group Communities for a Better Environment. “It’s a huge amount of crude that is being proposed to be delivered here by rail now.

Karras said it all comes down to profits. The tanker cars are mostly owned or leased by oil companies, that don’t want to pay. “There are alternatives, they can afford them.

Karras said fracked Bakken crude isn’t the only threat. He said trains are now hauling tar sands oil, the dirtiest kind of crude.

“It sinks to the bottom when it gets into the water body like the bay, and this has happened in other parts of the country,” he said.

Seven months after the Lac-Megantic disaster, trains have just started to roll through Marlaine Savard’s town again. “The first thing that they rebuilt was the railroad, ok!”

There are no tankers carrying crude yet, because she says this time her town won’t allow it. ”If everybody stands up, I am sure that this is the hope.”

WesPac Energy Group has plans to rebuild an old oil storage facility in downtown Pittsburg and bring in fracked crude oil by rail, ships and pipelines.

The Pittsburg city council is set to vote on the proposal’s environmental impact report in the coming months.

Our own connection to the disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec

A group of us attended the forum in Martinez on February 26.  We were privileged and moved to hear Marlaine Savard, spokesperson for a citizens’ group in the region of Lac-Mégantic, Québec.  She shared in a very personal way about the crude oil by rail conflagration in her small town of Lac Megantic in 2013.  A crude oil train derailed and killed 47 people and devastated their downtown. Thank you to Constance Beutel for filming her story.

Published on YouTube, Feb 28, 2014
By Constance Beutel, Benicia

 

Crude Oil Train Explosions 2013-2014

Rail and oil industry spokespersons will talk about their excellent safety record, but here are photos that tell a different story.  (This listing thanks to Facebook/BombTrains(On a sad note, Curtis Hewston, who maintained the Facebook BombTrains page, passed away in September 2014. His detailed logging of hazmat derailments was without an equal. Would that someone could pick up and carry on where Curtis left off…)

Notable Oil Train Detonations

6 July 2013 — Canada — A freight train containing 72 tank cars of crude oil that originated from the Bakken formation runs away while unattended and derails in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.  Several cars explode, resulting in 42 confirmed dead and 5 missing and presumed dead.  More than 30 buildings in the town’s center, roughly half of the downtown area, are destroyed.  It is the deadliest rail disaster in Canada since the St-Hilaire train disaster in 1864.

BombTrains_2013-07-06_Lac-Megantic

19 October 2013 — Canada — A Canadian National Railway freight train with 13 cars carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas derails west of Edmonton, Alberta.  Local residents are evacuated in Gainford, Alberta, located 53 miles (85 km) from the capital.  A fire results.  No one was injured.

BombTrains_2013-10-19_GainfordAlberta

8 November 2013 — United States — A 90-car freight train carrying crude oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, from Amory, Mississippi, to a refinery in Walnut Hill, Florida, derails and explodes near the town of Aliceville, Alabama.  The flames, which shot upward 300 feet high, were left to burn themselves out. There were no fatalities or injuries.

BombTrains_2013-11-08_AlicevilleAlabama

30 December 2013 — United States — Several grain cars from a westbound train derail and strike an eastbound train, carrying crude oil from the Bakken formation, near Casselton, North Dakota.  Several crude oil cars explode, resulting in large clouds of toxic, black smoke, which forced an evacuation of the area.  No casualties were reported.

BombTrains_2013-12-30_CasseltonNorthDakota

7 January 2014 — Canada — A Canadian National train carrying crude oil and propane derails near Plaster Rock, New Brunswick and burns for days. The resulting fire forced an evacuation of about 150 people from within a two-kilometre radius. No injuries were reported.

BombTrains_2014-01-07_PlasterRockNewBrunswick

30 April 2014 — United States — About 15 tanker cars on a CSX unit train carrying Bakken crude oil through downtown Lynchburg, Virginia derailed along the James River.  At least three of the cars broke open and ignited, while also spilling at least 50,000 gallons of crude into the fiery river.  No injuries were reported.

BombTrains_2014-04-30_LynchburgVirginia

Bomb Train Derailments in 2014

This is from Facebook/BombTrains(Editor:  On a sad note, Curtis Hewston, who maintained the Facebook BombTrains page, passed away in September 2014, so this log has not been updated since August 2.  Curtis’ detailed logging of hazmat derailments was without an equal. Would that someone could pick up and carry on where Curtis left off…)

2014 — The Year In Bomb Train Derailments

This a running list of bomb train derailments in North America in 2014.

By “bomb train,” I mean those trains hauling one or more cars of crude oil, fuel oil, ethanol, methanol, propane, butane, liquified natural gas (methane), vinyl chloride, ammonium nitrate or high-nitrogen fertilizer such as anhydrous ammonia, phosphoric acid or some other highly volatile or especially toxic or caustic cargo.

I’m also counting derailments if the engine or engines derail and cause a diesel fuel spill. (The list does not include coal train derailments, which, of course, are a whole ‘nuther problem.) I’ve also indicated whether a detonation resulted.

So far in North America in 2014, we have seen an average of one bomb train derailment every 4 days ….

  • 01/07 – Plaster Rock, NB (6 days from Jan. 1), detonation
  • 01/20 – Philadelphia, PA (13 days later)
  • 01/26 – Edmundston, NB (6 days later)
  • 01/28 – Molino, FL (2 days later)
  • 01/31 – New Augusta, MS (3 days later)
  • 02/06 – Sedalia, CO (6 days later)
  • 02/11 – South Shore, KY and Jacksonville, FL (5 days later)
  • 02/13 – Vandergrift, PA (2 days later)
  • 02/19 – West Jordan, UT (6 days later)
  • 02/20 – Westford, MA (1 day later)
  • 02/22 - Covington, KY (2 days later)
  • 02/23 - St-Henri, QC (1 day later)
  • 02/27 – Great Falls, MT  (4 days later)
  • 02/28 – Selkirk, NY (1 day later)
  • 03/11 - Mortlach, SK (11 days later)
  • 03/14 - Clifton, AZ (3 days later)
  • 03/20 – White Pigeon, MI (6 days later)
  • 03/21 – Proctor, MN (1 day later)
  • 04/07 – Glens Falls, NY (17 days later)
  • 04/09 – Philadelphia, PA (2 days later)
  • 04/12 - Slateford, PA (3 days later)
  • 04/14 – Nairn, ON (2 days later)
  • 04/30 – Lynchburg, VA (16 days later), detonation
  • 05/08 - Estevan, SK (8 days later)
  • 05/09 – LaSalle, CO (1 day later)
  • 05/12 – Albany, NY (3 days later)
  • 05/23 - Fort Frances, ON (11 days later)
  • 05/31 – Tulsa, OK (8 days later)
  • 06/07 - McKeesport, PA (7 days later)
  • 06/09 - Pictou County, NS (2 day later)
  • 06/16 – Tuscaloosa, AL (7 days later)
  • 06/20 – Winnipeg, MB (4 days later)
  • 06/22 – Blytheville, AR (2 days later)
  • 06/23 – Phoenix, AZ and Navasota, TX (1 day later)
  • 07/01 – McKeesport, PA (8 days later)
  • 07/02 - Sewickley, PA (1 day later)
  • 07/03 – Superior, MT (1 day later)
  • 07/04 – Whitecourt, AB (1 day later)
  • 07/10 - Brockville, ON (6 days later)
  • 07/13 – Three Hills, AB (3 days later)
  • 07/16 – Mortlach, SK (3 days later)
  • 07/17 – Everett, WA (1 day later)
  • 07/18 – El Paso, TX (1 day later)
  • 07/20 – Slinger, WI (2 days later)
  • 07/24 – Dexter, MO and Seattle, WA (4 days later)
  • 07/25 – Spartanburg, SC (1 day later)
  • 07/30 – Selkirk, NY (5 days later)
  • 08/01 – Baton Rouge, LA and Kingston, ON (2 days later)

BombTrains_2013-07-06_Lac-Megantic

Public forum on Big Oil Trains in Martinez Feb. 26

On Facebook: facebook.com/events/834097813284056/
Print and distribute: BIG OIL FLYER

Big Oil Trains: Derailing Community Safety

A forum about increased rail accidents, refinery dangers, and climate change. BigOilInOurMidst_header How will refinery expansions and transportation of crude oil by rail affect YOUR town?

A panel of experts and activists will inform residents of Benicia, Martinez, Rodeo, Crockett and Port Costa of Big Oil’s plans, both local and global.

Wednesday, Feb. 26th at 6:30 PM Veterans War Memorial Building, 930 Ward Street, Martinez (@ the corner of Ward and Court Streets)

Please join our panelists for presentations and Q & A:

  • Marilaine Savard: spokesperson for a citizens’ group in the region of Lac-Mégantic, Québec.  Last year, a string of exploding petroleum rail cars destroyed the center of the town and claimed 47 lives.
  • Antonia Juhasz: oil industry analyst, journalist, and author of “The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s Most Powerful Industry and What We Must do to Stop It” and “Black Tide: the Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill”.
  • Diane Bailey, senior scientist at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).
  • Marilyn Bardet:  watchdog activist for the Valero refinery  and founding member of Benicia’s Good Neighbor Steering Committee.
  • Nancy Rieser: spokesperson, Crockett-Rodeo-Hercules Working Group, challenging Phillips 66 on its Propane Expansion Project.
  • Kalli Graham: spokesperson, Pittsburg Defense Council, fighting the proposed WesPac oil terminal.

Sponsored by:SunflowerAlliance_logoIn partnership with: Sierra Club, 350 Bay Area, Communities for a Better Environment, Richmond Progressive Alliance, ForestEthics, Pittsburg Defense Council, Pittsburg Ethics Council, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community, and the Crockett-Rodeo-Hercules Working Group.

Print and distribute: BIG OIL FLYER

For those in other towns, we have related forums in Pittsburg and Richmond!  See http://sunflower-alliance.org/forums-on-the-new-dangers-of-extreme-energy/