Senator demands disclosure of crude oil railroad shipments

June 29, 2014

rail oilFollowing Wednesday’s delayed disclosure of a shipment of 1 million gallons of crude oil by railroad earlier this month, State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, demanded timely disclosure of crude oil shipments by railroad. [Daily Democrat]

In May, the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered that railroads must begin sharing information about large shipments of crude oil with state and local officials. In the past, railroad officials have argued that making public times and routes of tank cars carrying toxic cargo is a security risk.

“While I applaud the Office of Emergency Services’ release of BNSF Railway’s after-the-fact disclosure of a crude-by-rail shipment through nine Northern California counties earlier this month, what the public wants and what local responders need is information regarding future shipments of crude oil by rail, in order to better prepare any necessary response in the event of any potential accident or mishap with this hazardous cargo,” Wolk said. “I call on the federal and state government to require railroads to provide advance notice regarding hazardous material shipments through our communities.”

In 2013, crude oil rail shipments increased 506 percent in the United States, and more is planned. In Nipomo, Phillips 66 would like to add 1.3 miles of new track to an existing rail spur, so that up to five trains a week can deliver crude oil to the Bay Area for processing.

Jorge Estrada

The title should read, The crude Senator demands full disclosure of railroad shippments.


Let’s just disclose EVERYTHING! Let’s go ahead and make this the age of transparency! Publish the CIA black budget, provide parents with the studies that DO connect thimerosal in vaccines and autism, documentation of UFO’s (as well as the government prototypes and plans to attempt to imitate them), Facebook’s recent “research study” and the reasons behind it-as well as why they chose to conduct it minus informed consent and debriefing. Let’s bring back Edward Snowden and give him carte blanche to speak on any topic he wishes (with the assumption that we still have free speech without having to flee to Russia after we exercise it). Let’s reveal exactly why Monsanto is tinkering with the DNA in our food to the point it is affecting our telomeres. Let’s just get it ALL out in the open!!!!

You may think I am a dreamer…..but I am NOT the only one…..


Are all of us aware that Obama is blocking Keystone pipeline to FAVOR his buddy Warren Buffett who owns much of BNSF railway, and which railway just ordered a ton of DOT tank cars?

Here’s how Obama is in bed with big oil more than W ever conceived of being: No pipeline, so oil goes by rail. Buffett gets richer, Obama receives some sort of covert benefit, we all lose. Obama puts “W” to shame in arrogance, violating the constitution, and getting into bed with wealthy interests while screwing the men and women in Nebraska (etc.) who would like to be driving a dozer or a welder at $ 78.00 an hour.

Oh, and Canadian oil is not “contracted to Asia” as someone purports below. The oil is available under changing contracts, it COULD flow through our pipes and our refineries and then perhaps get sold around the USA and other places, all of which is called “commerce” you brainless enviro-liberals. Geez, argue for shutting down all commerce and growth and prosperity, if you wish, but don’t cloak your arguments in such transparent veils.


“The oil is available under changing contracts, it COULD flow through our pipes and our refineries …. ”

Um, first this isn’t “oil” in the sense that it is “sweet crude”; this is tar sands oil, the heaviest, dirtiest oil currently being harvested. Because it is so nasty, there is a somewhat better price on it, but it also requires a much more thorough processing, which if processed in the US with stricter pollution standards, it would eventually cost about the same as regular oil.

Second, China and India both have a huge demand for oil products right now, and they do not have the same pollution standards that the US has, so they can import the nasty tar sands oil and process it much cheaper.

Third, the tar sands oil going through the Keystone pipeline would be very problematic since it is not as liquid as regular oil, and, if there is a spill, it is much more difficult to clean up, especially if it pollutes a body of water. The heavier tar sand oil sinks to the bottom instead of floating on top, so it will never be completely removed; going directly over the largest aquifer in the United States is just asking for trouble, especially since it cannot be removed from the water easily.

Lastly, our single largest export at this moment is oil and gasoline; we definitely do not “need” the crap they sucking out of the ground up in Canada that the Keystone pipeline is touted as being the safest transportation method for moving that foul stuff.

And if Warren Buffet makes a little (or a lot more) money in transporting the tar sands oil by rail, at least he isn’t getting the same tax breaks that the oil companies get, which are financed by all the rest of those who pay taxes.


I absolutely challenge your “fear” game statement about the oil pipeline going over a hydrogeologic aquifer. Oil pipelines overlay them everywhere, criss-cross even our pristine SLO county. You are attempting to confuse when you claim exceptional or noteworthy aquifer “risk” with the Canadian product.

It’s just as bleeping safe as the many other pipelines which do the job day in and day out, with hardly an occasional rupture, blow out, or fire. This same fear crap was said about the Alaskan pipeline. Where are the dead caribou and savaged lands?

Hopefully people are not persuaded by your enviro-leaning misstatements.


” … by your enviro-leaning misstatements.”; misstatements, as in plural? Let’s for argument’s sake say that your assertion about pipelines is correct (which I highly doubt they are, but just for this discussion we can set that aside) – which “other” statements are you asserting I made are untrue? Do you challenge my assertion that the tar sands oil is really bad? Do you think that China and India would not be the first in line to buy that crap oil product? Are you not aware that we export oil and gasoline as our number one item?


Oh well, engage me in semantics but, ok, I’ll take the bait…. nothing wrong with spirited if boring-to-others debate here..

Tar sands oil is on par with the witches brew of petroleum hydrocarbons and contaminants which ALL crude is, even west Texas benchmark or light sweet. A spill of ANY of them is to be avoided at all costs and cleaned up at once, from what I know the cleanup methods are similar and thankfully seldom needed. Neither you nor I are degreed petroleum chemists but my cousin is, on the North Slope. I guess we could ask her but I think claiming that one gunk is measurably worse (more harmful if spilled) than the other is a misleading misstatement meant to creating misinformation and fear in the public, ergo, …….yes, therefore constitutes more fear-mongering by an erudite enviro such as yourself…..

China and India yes would of course buy, however see my comments above for a general description of why your racist or socially-based selection of common world-market petroleum consumers like those two is immaterial to the discussion, and may serve to inject needless fear or hostility into your readers’ mind.

And finally, yep, I guess I’m clued in that we happen to sell raw and refined petroleum products. Good for us, the more the merrier, it’s COMMERCE even if we transship it through our pipelines at profitable rates.

You should be on my side anyway, Bob from SL. The trans-Canada line which a frustrated Canada just announced it is going to build to Vancouver and the Sound is across much more ecologically-sensitive and difficult to construct terrain than Keystone across the mostly flat heartlands of the USA. It is YOU who bodes for more overall risk or damage by helping your buddy in the White House force our faithful northern neighbors to route their precious black gold to the pacific not gulf shoreline. .


WRONG. Obama–despite all of his campaign promises–has been a Keystone supporter from the beginning.


Following the Lac-Mégantic derailment in Quebec, Canada, it a no-brainer that this legislation should pass. An entire town was virtually destroyed and 50 people died as a train derailed after being parked in the town.

This should become SOP to notify towns and cities so they can develop comprehensive emergency response and preparedness plans. Anything less would be foolish.


I would like to think that the Quebec derailment was a highly unusual event and is unlikely to recur. However, like that location, SLO is at the bottom of a long downgrade where an out-of-control train could easily derail. The biggest difference is that the derailment would be likely to occur farther from town — above Cal Poly or the CMC. However, we are in a much dryer climate and such an accident could result in a massive and dangerous wildfire much more easily.

If they do ship by rail, they need to do two things. First is to notify local emergency officials of the times when such trains are passing. (Their concern about being a terrorism target is not entirely unwarranted and the general public need not be notified for that reason.) Second is to really ramp up safety requirements for both the trains and the tracks they pass over. This would create some hassles as many locals routinely cross the tracks in unofficial crossings and some (especially Poly students) use them as a commuter foot path. We would probably need to add more regulated crossings and or over/underpasses.


QUOTING OTOH: “I would like to think that the Quebec derailment was a highly unusual event and is unlikely to recur.

Between 12/30/2013 and 4/30/2014 there were two derailments, at least one of them spilling into a major U.S. waterway.

What makes this situation worse is railway oil shipments are regularly occurring, the oil industry cannot be trusted, and the oil industry is quite evasive about the details of derailments.


Lynchburg, VA derailment.


In the latest accident involving rail cars carrying crude oil, a CSX train derailed and erupted into black, smoky flames on Wednesday in downtown Lynchburg, Va., forcing scores of people to evacuate and causing a spill in the James River.


NYTimes Photo of Virginia derailment

http: //


StarTribune article, updated 1/13/2014.


(Accident occurred: 12/30/2013)

The oil train that crashed and burned after colliding with a derailed train near Casselton, N.D., on Dec. 30 spilled 400,000 gallons of crude, U.S. investigators said Monday in a preliminary report on the accident.


Photo of Casselton, SD derailment and fire:



CASSELTON, N.D. derailment

=25 crude-oil tanks derailed.

=18 of 25 crude-oil tanks ruptured.

=Grain train westbound collides with petroleum crude-oil train heading east.

=400,000 gallons released-Fire.

=14,000 people evacuated.

=Damages: 8 million.

If this had derailed in town, it would have been much worse.”…

…”According to Brett Burdick, deputy state director at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, about four oil trains a week are now moving through Lynchburg and that number is likely to increase. Most of those trains are headed to the Delaware City Refining Company in Newcastle County”


Photo of Casselton, SD derailment and fire:



Mary…don’t attempt to convince the naysayers with the facts. Shipping heavy crude by rail IS inherently dangerous….far more than by pipeline.


Ah! Come on! Give the terrorist a chance at least. Geeeees!


I am so sick of the terrorism inflicted by the American people….by our politicians and the industries seeking to keep Americans cowering under the bed under the guise of danger by terrorists.

Do you remember how slick Dick Cheney was with his abuse of power when he pioneered the color-coded terror-alert system? To no one’s surprise, those “alerts” occurred at very politically conveniently

We have already had, since 12/30/2013, two large derailments, one of them involving derailment into a major Massachusetts waterway. How many terrorist attacks have we had?

I think that is evidence that terrorists are less threatening to us than the oil industry.


The Keystone Pipeline oil doesn’t go to our lifestyle, it is already contracted to Asia.


If that is true, where does the money go from the oil that is supposedly sold to”Asia”?




Mostly to multi-national oil companies with a nice tax income to Canada where it is produced.

Mitch C

Another left wing nut who hasn’t figured out that since it is his party that has put the kabash on the Keystone Pipeline that the energy needed to fuel our lifestyle needs to be transported somehow.


While I am not opposed to the Keystone Pipeline on general principal, it would do nothing to help us get “the energy needed to fuel our lifestyle needs.” It is intended to get Canadian oil-sand crude across the US to Houston for processing/shipping — mostly outside of the US. The benefits it would provide to the US are primarily in a few refinery jobs and more dockyard jobs in Texas. Even the construction jobs would contain a large number of foreign workers.

I do agree with you that pipelines are a safer method of transporting crude oil than railroad cars but that is unlikely to be an option in our case.


It isn’t necessarily “our” lifestyle needs being fueled. Much of what is produced and/or refined in our country is shipped somewhere else.

In addition, endangering the nation’s largest aquifer by placing a filthy oil pipeline through it does nothing but create problems.