City of Los Angeles Now Officially Opposed to Dirty, Dangerous Phillips 66 Project in San Luis Obispo County

LOS ANGELES – Taking action to protect neighborhoods from dirty and dangerous “oil bomb trains,” the Los Angeles City Council today approved a resolution authored by Councilmember Mike Bonin opposing a project that would increase the number of crude oil shipments through LA communities.

Bonin’s resolution formally opposes a project in San Luis Obispo County being offered by the Phillips 66 Company, which would extend a rail spur to the oil company’s Santa Maria Oil Refinery so the refinery could receive more oil shipments by train. If approved, the rail spur extension would allow up to five unit trains – each 1.4 miles long and made up of 400 tank cars – filled with roughly two million gallons of crude oil to the refinery every week. The shipments would come from a variety of origins, including the Port of Los Angeles, which would necessitate travel along rail lines through Los Angeles neighborhoods.

“This is a dangerous idea and I appreciate my colleagues on the Council standing with me to oppose it,” said Bonin. “Oil trains are just as likely as any to derail, but when the trains are full of highly flammable fuel like crude oil, when they derail they aren’t just trains coming off the tracks – they are massive, destructive, life-threatening bombs being ignited in our neighborhoods.”

Draft environmental documents that have been prepared for the project indicate that there would be unmitigated and significant hazard impacts associated with the transport of crude oil by rail, including from a possible derailment of trains carrying crude oil; and that the project would have significant impacts on air quality, biological resources, public services, and water resources. The significant safety and environmental concerns with the project have earned it opposition from some of the state’s leading environmental groups, including the Sierra Club.

“We applaud the Los Angeles City Council’s decision to oppose the construction of the Phillips 66 Company Santa Maria Refinery Rail Spur Extension Project,“ said Sam Sukaton, Southern California Dirty Fuels Organizer with the Sierra Club. “We hope this action influences the County of San Luis Obispo to block this incredibly dangerous crude oil from being transported so near our homes altogether, ensuring our safety from these so-called ‘bomb trains.’”

The motion, which was unanimously approved by the City Council, was seconded by Councilmembers Jose Huizar and Paul Koretz.

“If this project is approved, Los Angeles could be the thoroughfare for trains hauling crude oil,” said Huizar. “With oil trains like these in deadly accidents across the country, we simply cannot and will not allow the City of Los Angeles and its residents to be put in harm’s way.”

“As the City prioritizes the reimagining of the Los Angeles River, which will reinvigorate communities all along the river, we need also to protect that idyllic vision and our investment from the horrific oil train crashes and spills we have seen elsewhere,” added Koretz.

Derailments of trains carrying crude oil have been documented in cities and towns throughout North America, including recent disasters in North Dakota, Ontario, West Virginia and Philadelphia – all of which happened this year.

The project is currently being reviewed by the San Luis Obispo Planning Commission and while no date has yet been set for the Planning Commission to consider the project, final environmental documents are scheduled to be released this summer. For more information about the project, please visit here.

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Read the motion and find out more here.