Friday, August 1, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Fairfield, Suisun still weighing crude-by-rail proposal

By
From page A1 | July 16, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Fairfield and Suisun City have yet to stake out positions for the proposed Valero Benicia refinery crude-by-rail project.

Valero wants to transport crude oil to its Benicia refinery by train. The Roseville-to-Benicia leg along the Union Pacific tracks passes through Fairfield and Suisun City.

The draft environmental impact report for the project said the chances of a derailment resulting in the spill of more than 100,000 gallons of oil is once every 111 years. It describes the risk to public safety as being “less than significant.”

But opponents raise the specter of various rail accidents involving crude oil, such as the Lac-Megantic derailment in Canada in July 2013. The Bakken formation oil from ruptured tank cars exploded, killing 47 people.

The Benicia Planning Commission on Thursday conducted a public hearing to accept verbal comments on the draft environmental impact report. The city is accepting written comments to Sept. 15.

Davis, which is also along the Union Pacific line, is reviewing the draft environmental report with the intent of submitting comments. So is the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, according to letters on file with Benicia.

Fairfield could take another approach. Community Development Director Erin Beavers said the city could forego commenting on the draft environmental report and focus instead on state legislation affecting crude-by-rail shipments. That is a better way to address city concerns, he said.

Among the concerns are making certain the rail tank cars have the safest design and that tank cars and train track inspections are done, Beavers said. The city wants adequate money set aside to respond to a rail accident, should one occur.

State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, has been working on crude-by-rail legislation. She proposes levying a fee on railroad tank cars. Money would be used to develop and maintain local emergency response systems for rail accidents involving crude oil and other hazardous materials.

The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 506, is to go to next to the Senate Transportation Committee.

Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez wants his City Council to discuss Wolk’s bill. The least the city can do is make certain there are resources available to respond to rail accidents, he said.

His concern about the Valero crude-by-rail proposal is that accidents can happen and have happened in other areas, Sanchez said.

“It’s horrendous to think of residents soundly sleeping in homes and here comes a rolling, burning container about to hit their homes,” he said.

Tough safety requirements for the tank car containing the oil need to be in place, he said.

The draft environmental report described various federal standards for oil tank cars. Valero has said it will use rail cars that are known as 1232 tank cars that go beyond federal standards and are recommended by the Association of American Railroads. The tank cars have thicker shells and features such as protective head shields not found on pre-2011, federally authorized tank cars still in use.

Valero in December 2012 submitted a use permit application to Benicia for the crude-by-rail project asking the city to issue a land-use permit. The project requires various changes to the Benicia refinery, such as constructing two offloading rail spurs and relocating a tank farm.

But some issues associated with the project appear to be outside the city’s control.

Bradley Hogin, an environmental attorney hired by Benicia, told the Benicia Planning Commission on Thursday that the city cannot require Valero to use the 1232-designated tank cars, though Valero has made this commitment. Nor could it limit the number of 50-car trains coming to the refinery to one per day, instead of the two-a-day schedule examined in the draft environmental impact report.

Such matters are controlled by federal interstate commerce laws and outside the control of Benicia, Hogin said. The city cannot regulate railroad operations.

Nor can Benicia require Valero to reveal the details about the North American crude oils it plans to purchase and transport by rail. The draft environmental impact report lists this as confidential business information. Some crude oils are more volatile than others.

Valero can choose among 38 North American crude oils listed in the draft environmental impact report. They come from New Mexico, Utah, North Dakota, Canada, Colorado and Wyoming.

The draft environmental impact report noted two recent rail oil tank car spills in the United States that it said could have been prevented by using the 1232 tank cars. But, the report said, it’s unlikely using the 1232 tank cars could have prevented the Lac-Megantic spill, given a runaway train was traveling at 63 mph, though the 1232 cars could have reduced the severity.

Sanchez said federal agencies would respond to a public groundswell to make certain the right rail tank cars are used. He said he doesn’t see Valero saying “no” to any reasonable request made by residents.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 6 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Mr.RJuly 16, 2014 - 7:46 am

    Of course Wolk would see an opportunity to raise the price of gas. Just another way to get more money to waste.Make Velero set aside a emergency fund. I also like the way a rail car is described as a fire ball rolling toward your home.Give me a brake.Trains are a lot safer than putting tanker trucks on the road.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJuly 16, 2014 - 10:29 am

    Trucks should be used for this purpose. Trucking brings jobs and high revenue from fuel and transportation taxes. Here we are with an opportunity to promote local business and we're talking about alternate choices. Road maintenance and taxes can be negotiated for these carriers and oil companies. Rail is great for long distance shipping but it is a job killer. Accidents and safety are part of doing business. I'll take my chances with trucking and the positive prospects it promotes.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • More rails, less road.....July 16, 2014 - 12:34 pm

    From a business standpoint, keeping trucks off the road and shipping by rail is the way to go. As usual, someone wants money out of this. I wouldn't blame the railroads if they said they'll go elsewhere with the oil. Another attack on the middle class.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Ulises S. GuberJuly 16, 2014 - 12:53 pm

    the oppositions opinion is strengthened by pointing out examples of tragic accidents that involved the transport of crude however to be fair and balanced I think we should consider all the safely transported shipments of crude by rail that go unreported each and every day .....

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Lee WallackerJuly 16, 2014 - 3:20 pm

    I wonder if these anti-rail people ever wonder what's loaded on that semi-truck that's speeding down road next to them. How ironic that in this morning's paper is a story of a big rig that ran off of I-80 in the middle of Fairfield, forcing evacuation of several businesses.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJuly 16, 2014 - 4:57 pm

    Lee Wallacker, accidents happen every day with cars, trucks, motorcycles and even trains, very little we can do about that. We have the infrastructure in place, the manpower and equipment available. We need jobs and revenue, trucking checks all the boxes.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

‘Boyhood’ mature on music, moments

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

 
Mr. Clean: Dennis Regan offers friendly jokes, with a bite

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Gemstones shine at Solano County Fair

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Trifecta: ‘The Who’s Tommy’ third play in three months

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Japan Summerfest returns this month

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Solano Tea Party Patriots schedule meet

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 7 Comments

 
Highway 12 to close overnight in Jameson Canyon

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Air district calls Spare the Air alert

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Vallejo police arrest suspect in shooting death

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Stabbing victim dies in Vacaville

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
Fairfield police log: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Suisun City police log: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Abbas seeks broad support for war crimes charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US, UN announce deal on 72-hour Gaza cease-fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

As US job market strengthens, many don’t feel it

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Dow plunges as multiple worries vex investors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds 2011 union law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
A look at the impact of Wisconsin’s union law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Union: California prison staff told to fake checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Candidate goes homeless to show economic gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

California ex-mayor sentenced in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Californians to see increase in health plan costs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

Appellate court overturns high-speed rail rulings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Report: Secrecy enveloped Bay Bridge construction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Yosemite wildfire weakened, evacuations to end

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Congress races to finish VA, highway bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
See-through mice reveal details of inner anatomy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

CIA spied on Senate, internal review finds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Demoted worker shoots CEO, kills self in Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 2 Comments

NASA to test making rocket fuel ingredient on Mars

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Investigators reach Ukraine jet wreckage site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoons: Aug. 1, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
To err is human – but not in print

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

Why do so many Americans support Hamas

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 12 Comments

 
Nice guy becomes House majority leader

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

Should union organizing be a civil right?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11, 9 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History for Aug. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My irregular monthly cycles were a symptom of cancer, not menopause

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes for Aug. 1, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Aug. 1-7, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: Boseman drips with charisma as James Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

‘Godfather of Makeup’ Dick Smith dead at 92

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Starz’ ‘Outlander’ brings novels to life vibrantly

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Dionne Warwick knows her way to San Jose

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar Aug. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
‘Sharknado 2′ whipped up storm of viewers, tweets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Chekwa taking reps with Raiders while Hayden sits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Safety Bethea finding a groove with new 49ers team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Expos fall short in 10-9 loss to Leghorns

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7

 
A’s deal Tommy Milone to Twins for Sam Fuld

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

A’s get Lester, Gomes from Red Sox for Cespedes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Another decent start for Woods at Firestone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Ravens’ Rice: His actions ‘totally inexcusable’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Dustin Johnson takes leave of absence from golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Commonwealth Games athlete convicted for assault on rival

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Lynch ends holdout, arrives at Seahawks camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Nick Watney leads PGA Barracuda Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Rich get richer: Rays’ Price traded to Tigers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Dumdumaya takes third in World Junior/Junior Olympic tourney

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

 
AP Source: Trump advances in Bills sale process

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Mudcats get 15-7 win in Auburn Classic

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

 
Phelps to compete in 4 events at US nationals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Signups for Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
Derrick Brooks set standard for NFL linebackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Business

Daimler launches new version of tiny Smart car

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
Iliad of France makes surprise bid for T-Mobile US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

In San Francisco real estate, $1M won’t buy much

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Facebook’s Internet.org expands in Zambia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Debit overdraft fees often exceed cost of purchase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

 
Panasonic, Tesla to build big US battery plant

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

SeaWorld, Southwest Airlines ending partnership

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Target taps outsider as CEO for needed shakeup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Clifford C. Hemler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9