The Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association has voted to urge San Luis Obispo County planners to deny a proposed rail project at a Nipomo Mesa refinery.
The union’s representative council unanimously voted May 27 to request the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission reject a proposal from Phillips 66 Co. to upgrade its refinery to allow it to receive crude oil for processing by rail.
“As educators and advocates for the students of south San Luis Obispo County, we are particularly concerned with the risks this project would pose to Lucia Mar schools and student populations along the rail line,” Donna Kandel, president of the teacher’s association, wrote to planning commissioners.
Through county planners have received numerous comments from school districts and teachers associations in other parts of California, the Lucia Mar teachers association is the first teacher’s union in San Luis Obispo County to take a position. Many of the letters were sent after the comment period on the project’s revised environmental impact report had ended.
“Seven Lucia Mar schools — Lopez High School, Mesa and Judkins Middle Schools, and Fairgrove, Grover Beach, Grover Heights, and Oceano Elementary Schools — along with 22 other schools in San Luis Obispo County, are within a mile of the ‘blast zone’ and could suffer catastrophic consequences in the event of a derailment,” Kandel wrote.
The union is also concerned about health risks from diesel emissions.
“The facility expansion would not bring long-term benefits to our community, but will certainly result in long-term risk to our students and their communities,” Kandel wrote.
Phillips 66 now receives crude oil by pipeline and has applied to San Luis Obispo County for permits to build a 1.3-mile spur connecting to the main rail line, so the refinery can get crude by rail.