In response to Gary Kirkland’s letter in the July 28 paper (“Refinery is safely run”):
The proposed Phillips 66 rail project would change what the refinery has been since 1956, adding avoidable dangers that have not existed before, not only for San Luis Obispo County, but for the entire state.
Bitumen tar sands oil is different from the crude that Phillips currently refines. The bitumen is so thick that, in order for it to be transportable, it is mixed with toxic chemicals that dilute it. It is this mixture that makes this oil so explosive, leading to the name “bomb trains.”
Any area within one mile of the tracks is considered the blast zone, as has been learned from experience. Just within the county, there are 29 schools, two colleges and two hospitals within the blast zone.
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Oil train traffic has been substantially increasing over the past few years — to dangerous effect. There was more oil spilled from train derailments in 2013 than in the past four decades combined . And that is to say nothing of the 2013 disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where an oil train derailed, unleashing a massive explosion, leveling a downtown and killing 47 people. In addition, additional diesel pollution and other train-related chemical emissions from the increased number and length of trains would add to health risks.
The Phillips 66 project poses unacceptable health and safety risks.