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Valero’s Oil-By-Rail Report Minimizes Risk, Alarms Benicia Residents

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BENICIA (KPIX 5) — A new report puts into writing a plan for Valero to bring two trains per day of crude oil in and out of its Benicia refinery.

Marilyn Bardet of the group Benicians For a Safe and Healthy Community received the draft environmental impact report Tuesday afternoon.

“What kind of cost are we being asked to accept in terms of risk?” she said. “When we’re bringing in trains that contain this much oil at any one time being brought into cities and through very sensitive ecologies.”

Benicia residents are nervous about the new rail-car plan, citing news reporting about the six major incidents this past year across North America where trains crashed, spilling millions of gallons of crude oil.

One crash in Canada resulted in explosions killing 47 people and destroying many downtown buildings.

But today’s report declares the risk of an accident in the Bay Area would be extremely low — so rare that a spill of a 100 gallons of crude oil or more between Roseville and Benicia would likely happen once every 111 years.

“It only takes one accident and it takes one displacement of one rail, or a misaligned wheel on one of those cars,” Bardet said. “This can happen and I don’t think they’re being honest about how you use statistics here.”

The report said this new plan to have the trains transport the oil would have some impact on air pollution but this would be significant less than the current plan of bringing it on by boat.

The Oakland City Council passed a resolution to become first California city to oppose the shipping of fossil fuels by rail. The resolution is largely symbolic since the federal government makes the rules for the railroads.

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