This Sunday: The Threat of Oil Trains in San Jose

Daily Kos | January 20, 2015 | Post by Glen the Plumber

If Phillips 66 gets approval to expand its railway spur and refinery, the tracks in San Jose and other California cities will get a lot busier. Five days a week mile-long trains carrying crude oil to the Santa Maria refinery in San Luis Obispo county will roll through downtowns, residential areas, and across valuable farmlands. Although the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) claims the risks of derailment, fire, or explosion are “less than significant,” residents along the route are concerned.


Not without risks, pipelines are safer than rail, but for better or for worse, there are no pipelines to get crude from oil producing states like Texas and North Dakota to the refineries in California. As demand continues to rise and production throughout the state decreases., the state is likely to see a large increase in oil-by-rail traffic.

Annually the state has approximately 70 “total derailments” and hundreds of “near misses,” with more oil being transported by rail, the likelihood increases that an oil-carrying train will be involved. If the train that derailed last November spilling the contents of eleven cars into the Feather River had been carrying oil instead of corn, it could have been an environmental disaster taking years to cleanup.

Recently San Jose joined other Bay Area cites raising safety concerns regarding the trains. Led by city councilmember, Ash Kalra, the city council voted unanimously to direct that the city manager send a letter to the San Luis Obispo Planning Commission requesting the environmental and safety concerns of cities on the trains’ routes be considered.

I think it's totally appropriate regardless of whether the city is adjacent or not [...] Because, with the approval of the project in San Luis Obispo County, there's no doubt there'll be a dramatic increase in oil trains coming through our neighborhoods here in San Jose, right through the heart of our city.

Ash Kalra

Despite the immediate dangers of trains carrying over 200,000 gallons of oil rolling through your neighborhood, the ever expanding fossil-fuel infrastructure must be stopped if we ever hope to slow the global disaster facing our children’s generation. Climate activists have been working hard to raise awareness on Climate Change and politicians are starting to react. President Obama has hinted he will reject the Keystone XL pipeline and Gov. Brown introduced his proposals to counter Climate Change in his Inaugural Address.

This Sunday at 2pm, Ash Kalra along with speakers from 350 Silicon ValleyForest Ethics, and Center for Biological Diversity will hold a forum at San Jose’s City Hall to highlight the safety and environmental hazards associated with the oil trains. An event well attended by Climate activists will show Ash Kalra, who recently announced he will run for State Assembly in 2016, that Climate Change policy is an issue important to voters as he prepares his campaign.

Do you like this post?

Showing 2 reactions

@PAUSEnergy tweeted this page. 2015-01-23 14:52:32 -0500
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy posted about This Sunday: The Threat of Oil Trains in San Jose on PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy's Facebook page 2015-01-23 14:52:32 -0500
This Sunday: The Threat of Oil Trains in San Jose
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.