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Valero Confirms Plans For Crude Oil By Rail At Benicia Community Meeting

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Refinery at Sunrise

The Valero refinery in Benicia. (James Irwin/CBS)

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BENICIA (KCBS) — On the day a Bay Area state senator was voicing concerns over the transport of crude oil by rail, the Valero refinery in Benicia has announced at a community meeting it wants to do just that.

There was standing room only where about 200 people showed up for the meeting on Monday night at the Ironworkers Union Local 378 hall to hear Valero outline its crude-by-rail project.

Many who attended were skeptical of the plan which critics claim will result with two trains a day made up of 50 tanker cars each.

“It’s been proven that Bakken crude is a lot lighter and it’s very volatile and there’s been explosions and derailments and spills,” Jan Cox Golovich, a member of Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community.

But another attendee, Frank Sykes, said that using railcars would avoid a Cosco Busan or Exxon Valdez accident and that it would bring hundreds of jobs.

“I believe in Murphy’s Law—if it can happen, it will happen—but can’t live your life like that because nothing will ever get done,” he said. “If something was to happen out in the water ways, there’s a lot more damage that could be done.”

Environmentalists, however, point out that many rails lines traverse along the state’s rivers.

The meeting was peaceful but it was clear Valero has a long way to go to placate community members. Valero spokesman Chris Howe said the company understands there is opposition but said everyone will get a chance to weigh in.

“The environmental impact report is due out in the early part of next month, we’re expecting; the city will have a comment period,” he said

“It’s clear that the opponents of our project have a view; we scheduled this meeting tonight to bring some credentials experts.”

 

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