By Karina Ioffee, Contra Costa Times
Are American Rail Roads adequately insured for catastrophic accidents? In July 2013 an explosive derailment took out the center of the town of Lac Megantic and claimed 47 lives. The RR company was insured for $25 million but went belly up when the costs exceeded its coverage. Taxpayers in Quebec got stuck with the $1 billion clean-up bill.
Could that happen here? That and many other questions asked by residents last night remained unanswered. CalEPA organizers left the Crockett Community Center with a long “to-do” list. Suffice it to say, there will be more meetings in the future.
Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) filed a lawsuit this morning, alleging illegal approvals of a Tar Sands refining project that could worsen pollution, climate, and refinery and rails explosion hazards. Further, it alleges that the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) deliberately hid the many of the aspects of the project from the public and failed to mitigate its significant environmental impacts.
The action follows the February 3rd, 2015 approvals for Phillips’ “Propane Recovery Project”. The Phillips 66 project is part of an industry-wide switch to new oil supplies that is playing out across the region as California and Alaskan crude supplies dwindle.
According to refinery expert Greg Karras of CBE:
“Community and worker experts have shown it is the cheap-and-dirty oil project the (P66) CEO bragged about,” said CBE’s refinery expert Greg Karras. “Lighting the fuse on this bomb could have significant impacts, and no one should be thinking about building it before that potential harm is disclosed and addressed.”
To see the full press release and the lawsuit filing, click on the link below:
You just can’t get tar sands (bitumen) sludge through pipelines. Most train terminals are hundreds of miles away from the extraction fields. How get the sludge there? Mix in some “diluent” so the sludge can move through the pipelines. The combination of diluent (28%) and bitumen (72%) creates a thick black cocktail the oil industry calls “dilbit“.
The problem? Dilbit has a much lower flash point than raw tar sands. In fact, it has an ignition point at -35ºC, compared to -9ºC for conventional light oil.
As per RailwayAge website: “The widespread belief that bitumen from Alberta’s northern oil sands is far safer to transport by rail than Bakken crude is, for all intents and purposes, dead wrong.”
Here are 2 articles that lay it all out:
From RailwayAge (written by David Thomas): http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/safety/why-bitumen-isnt-necessarily-safer-than-bakken.html
From Oil Change International (By Andy Rowell): http://priceofoil.org/2015/03/02/transporting-tar-sands-dangerous-shale-oil/