Lawmakers Worry Fiery Oil Train Derailment could Happen in California

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Flames and a huge column of black smoke shoot up Wednesday from a derailed crude oil train in Lynchburg, Viginia.

“The information would be the types of movements, the amount of oil being shipped, the types of rail cars that’s being shipped,” Assemblyman Roger Dickinson said.

The democrat from Sacramento says those details should be in the hands of California’s first responders long before they face a scene like the one that developed in Lynchburg – not grasped for frantically in the frightening moments after.

That’s why he’s pushing for language to be added to AB-380 that would update police and fire crews with that critical knowledge on a monthly basis, requiring rail operators and refineries to submit it to the state.

“We also would call for a 24-hour, 7 day a week contact that the railroads would maintain that in the event of an incident we could be in touch immediately with the railroads,” he said.

It sounds simple enough, but a fire department called on to handle something similar to Lynchburg right now, only has some clue into what they’re facing thanks to what a few companies have chosen to provide on their own.

With Valero planning to use the same tracks as the Capitol Corridor trains to send up to 100 rail cars daily through Sacramento filled with a highly flammable form of crude, Dickinson says the need for preparedness can’t be overstated.

“We’ve already seen a 4,000 percent increase in rail shipments in the amount of oil shipped through California in just the last four or five years,” he said. “What we have relied on in the past isn’t sufficient under the new circumstances.”

As FOX 40 reported earlier this month, first responders throughout the region met with Union Pacific and are planning to pitch their safety concerns to Valero.

The planned facility Valero would be shipping all that Bakken oil field crude from has not yet been approved by Benicia.

Lawmakers could be debating AB-380, with Dickinson’s added language, by June.

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