Jean Jackman’s Testimony to Benicia Planning Commission on Feb. 9, 2016

Posted: February 12, 2016 in Rail Transport of Oil
Tags: , ,
Jean Jackman asks the Planning Commission to be good neighbors, moral people, and consider the health of all people along the rail.

Jean Jackman asks the Planning Commission to be good neighbors, moral people, and consider the health of all people along the rail.

Re:  Public Comment delivered at Feb. 9, 2016 Planning Commission meeting.  This is my written version of comments regarding the FEIR and the Valero Crude-by-Rail Project.  Please note I have submitted letters to earlier drafts as well.

Good evening Commissioners.  Thank you for you public service, dedication and endurance.

My name is Jean Jackman and I am your neighbor from Davis.

 I am terrified at the prospect of 1.5 million gallons of oil rolling through my town twice a day.

The people of Benicia should be terrified too. The air pollution will increase cancer deaths. There is noise pollution. Your water supply is at risk. Imagine the result of an oil spill in the Sacramento River, your water source.  In 2010, a spill of crude from a pipeline into a small creek in Michigan that flowed into the Kalamazoo River resulted in such a mess that the river had to be closed for 25 miles and they are still cleaning up the mess six years later.   The cost of cleanup was 1.2 billion and if the company would have filed bankruptcy, taxpayers would have paid.

The trains would go right through Davis, 50 feet from residents, one block from heart of Downtown Davis, through densely populated neighborhoods, past our UC Davis Mondavi Performing Arts Center.  And yet we have a dangerous, higher than average chance for a derailment.  Why?  Because of a low speed crossover between the main lines.  This crossover is right next to our Amtrak passenger depot.  This crossover is so dangerous that it is rated at just 10 mph.  And yet a railroad expert, has personally observed trains passing through the cross-over high speeds—one at 47 mph nearly having an accident, “tank cars whipping from side to side on their wheels.”

I am certain that weak links, much like our 10 mph cross-over, can be found all along the routes if we did investigations.

I am a retired teacher.  I taught for 14 years in the Vacaville School system in the town of Elmira.  At one point, we had more than 1000 students. The building I taught in is right across the street from the railroad tracks.  Now, the building houses a small, private school for special education students.  But it makes me wonder, how many schools, hospitals and environmentally sensitive areas like the Suisun Marsh along the route are threatened by these bomb trains…accidents waiting to happen.

Your neighbors in San Luis Obispo County hit the nail on the head when their planning staff said they do not believe the economic benefits from the project outweigh the unavoidable negative environmental impacts the project would cause, in San Luis Obispo and elsewhere in California.

Thanks to them for thinking of their neighbors.

Please go to Wikipedia and look at the increases in train accidents and derailments since 2010.  Then imagine those trains were carrying 1.5 million gallons of highly flammable crude.  Is that the future you want? The number of spills here is climbing: from 98 in 2010 to 182 in 2013, according to the California Office of Emergency Services (OES).

We don’t have the emergency response capability.  We don’t have a nimble railroad agency ready to upgrade trains. We only have accidents waiting to happen and increasingly so

Please, consider the health of your town of Benicia.  But also be good neighbors, moral people, and consider the health of hundreds of thousands of people up rail.  Please do not approve this projects until all impacts are mitigated.

Thank you,

Jean Jackman

  1. J Jones says:

    Thank you so very much for all your efforts on behalf of the residents of Davis!

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