Oil-By-Rail: Working to Keep Our Communities Safe

Nearly 500,000 residents of the Sacramento region are within the blast zone of an oil train explosion. Pending projects in the City of Benicia and San Luis Obispo County would increase the amount of crude oil transported by rail through the Sacramento region. One project would bring 70,000 barrels of crude oil shipped in two daily 50-car trains through sensitive habitat and urban areas, including the cities of Roseville, Sacramento, West Sacramento and Davis. In Davis alone, all of the downtown area, most of the UC Davis campus and hundreds of homes, apartments and businesses are located in the danger zone.

Through my roles as Yolo County Supervisor and as the Past Chair of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments we have continued to be a voice for the people requesting mitigation measures to make these projects safer for up rail communities. Measures such as stabilization of crude oil at its source, use of safer rail cars, and installing state of the art braking systems. Unless the best available safety measures are implemented we are putting these residents' safety at risk.

This summer 16 tank cars transporting Bakken crude oil derailed near Mosier, Oregon. Four of the derailed cars caught on fire forcing an evacuation of a school and residents, put the city’s sewage plant at risk, burned nearby land, and caused gridlock for cars and trucks detouring away from the accident. Now these residents are dealing with contaminated groundwater as a result of the incident. We don’t want this scenario played out in our region.

I will continue to speak up on this issue to keep our communities safe. If this is a topic of interest to you as well, please email Tara.Thronson@yolocounty.org with the subject line “Oil By Rail” and we will contact you the next time there is an opportunity for community action.