Construction has begun on the new Richmond Rail Connector project, located between Parr Boulevard and Richmond Parkway in the City of Richmond CA. 8 members of the California Transportation Commission (CTC) voted unanimously in August 2013 to provide $10.9 million to the California Department of Transportation for the connector between BNSF lines in San Pablo and Richmond.
Although the project is touted as a traffic control project, its proximity to the Chevron Oil Refinery is uncanny. The Connector is in close proximity to housing, schools and playgrounds. Environmentalists and residents are concerned with the connector, for several reasons. Recent train explosions and Chevrons’ expected increase in the refining of Bakken crude oil, a highly explosive crude, highlight these concerns. Bakken Crude will be transported from Bakken, North Dakota by rail.
The US Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) warns that:
…recent derailments and resulting fires indicate that the type of crude oil being transported from the Bakken region may be more flammable than traditional heavy crude oil. Based on preliminary inspections conducted after recent derailments in North Dakota, Alabama, and Lac-Megantic, Quebec involving Bakken crude oil, PHMSA is reinforcing the requirement to properly test, characterize, classify, and where appropriate sufficiently degasify hazardous materials prior to and during transportation.
CALTRAN is instrumental in this project. In their report http://www.dot.ca.gov/… CALTRAN stated in their report that that the following environmental factors would not be potentially affected by this project : “Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Air Quality, Population / Housing Hazards & Hazardous Materials”. The report does not seem to address the increase of greenhouse gas emissions which will occur due to increase of tar sands refining. Carbon dioxide emissions from the production of shale oil and shale gas are extremely higher than conventional oil production. This fact has not been accounted for in the report, as well as the hazards from transporting highly explosive materials.
CALTRAN and BNFS are partners in the Connector project. The funding is derived from tax payers, and the project benefits BNFS and Chervon.“BNSF Railway is the only carrier that touches all western shale plays”, said Teresa Perkins, the Class I’s general director of petroleum. ‘The railroad currently moves 600,000 barrels of crude oil per day and expects that volume to grow’, she added at the Midwest Association of Rail Shippers. http://www.progressiverailroading.com/…
The BNSF Railway is the second-largest freight railroad network in North America. On Feb. 12, 2010, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, LLC, (formerly known as Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation) and BNSF Railway Company became subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway Inc
Warren E. Buffett is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.. 2012 total operating revenue was about $20.8 billion. BNSF transports enough crude oil from the Williston Basin of North Dakota and Montana to the tanks of more than 656,000 average sized vehicles every day. The BNFS fact sheet states that in 2012, BNSF hauled 2.2 million coal shipments. http://www.bnsf.com/… . Also, petroleum transportation was up 23.66 % in the first three weeks of 2014, stated in their weekly report. http://www.bnsf.com/….
The huge increase in refining and transportation of these dangerous oils are not due to an increase in demand locally. Billions of galleons of oil are being exported in the San Francisco Bay Area, as reported by the New York Times : “the region’s five oil refineries along San Pablo Bay and the Carquinez Strait were responsible for $7.8 billion in oil exports in 2010, more than any other metro area in the country, according to a report released by the Brookings Institute.
Governor Brown is proposing 6.8 million in funds in the state budget for the Office of Oil Spills Prevention and Response Program in anticipation of the increased risk of inland oil spills.