Santa Clara County joining opposition to oil trains

By Eric Kurhi

SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County will join scores of cities, counties and school districts opposing a plan that would bring mile-long trains laden with crude oil rumbling through their neighborhoods, a situation county officials claim would be a disaster waiting to happen.


Mercury News editorial: “Crude oil trains too dangerous for Bay Area cities”

If Phillips 66 gets its way, mile-long trains carrying 2 million gallons of crude will roll on aging tracks through Milpitas and San Jose five times a week. The trains will pass through Diridon Station, the heart of San Jose’s downtown, past schools and through populous neighborhoods until veering out toward Highway 101 to their destination, a refinery in San Luis Obispo.Fortunately, leaders throughout the Bay Area are rising in protest.

Railroads balk at making oil disaster plans public

train bridge overhead

By Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio

Some 300,000 Minnesotans live within a half mile of railroad tracks that carry crude oil. But almost none of them have been able to see emergency plans the railroads were required to submit by July 1.  Rail executives say making the entire plans public would reveal sensitive security information and expose the rail lines to sabotage.

It begs the question: If  300,000 people in Minnesota live next the rail lines, how can the existence of oil train cars be kept secret?

Listen to the podcast here:

California’s Public Pension Funds Incurred $5 Billion Loss Due To Fossil Fuel Companies

By Joshua S. Hill

California’s two public pension funds, California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), suffered a loss of over $5 billion over the last financial year due to investments in the world’s 200 largest oil, gas, and coal companies (by carbon reserves).

money down the drain

Contra Costa County releases the 72 hour post refinery-fire report. Serious questions remain unanswered.

By Ed Tannenbaum, “Eyes on ConocoPhillips” blog


“The investigation is not complete. There will be a 30 day report. Questions remain; what caused the overfilling (of the substance that caused the fire)? Was there another bad level sensor like the one that caused the sour gas tank explosion, or was there a faulty valve position sensor like the one that caused the huge flaring a couple of months ago, or operator error?  And WHY wasn’t the phone system activated?”

Stay tuned!

Thank you, Ed Tannenbaum, blogger at “Eyes on ConocoPhillips” for yet another great post.

Fire Up the Irony Machine….

So….P66 tells the public it can do fine fighting fires by itself and manages to get its property taxes dramatically cut, a move that will eventually pull the rug from out under the closest Rodeo Fire Station.  And then yesterday, it uses the Rodeo Fire Department for help fighting the coker fire.

By Ed Tannenbaum, Eyes on Phillips 66 blogger and long-time local activist

safety pays (2)Or in the case of the Rodeo refinery…it even comes free

Update: Hazmat Officials Respond to Refinery Fire Report at Phillips 66 Rodeo

Updated 8/4/2015

Does the scene below, on the left, look familiar? 

The coker that was on fire this past Sunday was the same coker unit that caught fire last year.  No statement has been released to the press to date about the fire’s cause or why it happened two years in a row.

2015:   big fire  …and 2014: tight crop on fire ball and cylindrical charred tank

(Short article about safety alert

For many residents in the fenceline community, it was “deja vu all over again.” Despite news reports published later in the day that stated a shelter-in-place advisory had been lifted, no emergency siren was ever sounded nor was the “advisory” sent to the residents through the telephone alert system (this is a system that alerts folks with medical issues and are otherwise considered sensitive responders.) The “advisory” was quietly posted on the County’s website 2 hours after the fire started.  The time code of that County posting was 14.47 (almost 5 o’clock).

For many, this brought back memories of the deliberate and illegal Catacarb release by the same refinery of over 20 years ago.  P66 told no in the community about the odorless, poisonous release.  The County issued no warnings or advisories for 16 days.

Will this affect P66’s proposed Tar Sands/Propane Expansion project?

The coker that caught on fire (2 years in a row) is the same unit that is directly connected to the Nipomo/San Louis “front half” of the refinery via pipeline. This unit will be heavily involved in the receiving and processing of the Canadian Tar Sands, should P66 be allowed by the courts to go forward with its propane expansion project.

Both P66 and the Contra County are defendants in this case.  The plaintiffs are Communities for a Better Environment, Rodeo Citizens Association and SAFER, a worker safety group.hazmat

Pictured above:  Hazmat technicians appear to be taking air sample data with hand-held units from the area near Selby Slag, down the road from the fire.  This photo was taken at shortly before 5, around the same time as the “post mortem” health advisory was posted on the County website.