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How is being a 'little rail pregnant' a compromise?

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Allen Meyers says we should allow Phillips 66 to implement their “crude by rail strategy” starting with two trains per week instead of five (“Seeking middle ground,” Oct. 29). Instead of 520 mile-long oil trains entering and exiting SLO County each year, they’d begin with 208.

This would enable Phillips 66 to be only a little rail pregnant, but there’s no such thing as being just a little pregnant to test whether we like it or not. Once their rail terminal is born, it will never leave home. Phillips 66 will become ever more hungry for crude by rail, and the trains will keep coming in larger numbers.

In fact, in a comment responding to a Feb. 21 opinion piece in CalCoastNews, Mr. Meyers wrote that there should be “two trains arriving at the facility per week for the first six months, then increasing in increments every 60 to 90 days.” That’s not a compromise. That’s shoving the knife in a little bit at a time. It would just take slightly longer to perish.

Let’s examine another assertion: He asks, “who really knows the facts?” Obviously Mr. Meyers, a self-described railroad enthusiast, keeps a blind eye toward any negative railroad facts.

He tells us how safe they are, but he ignores the fact that 47 significant crude oil/hazmat materials train derailments have occurred in the U.S. and Canada in the last 31 months! That includes the Sept. 19 disaster in South Dakota causing the fire chief to say: “There was a pretty good fireball. We don’t see a lot of stuff like this, so naturally we don’t train for a lot of stuff like this. You get a pretty big lump in your throat.”

Mr. Meyers touts the safety record of Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR). Yet he overlooks the facts that over the years there have been serious accidents on their tracks: two trains collided on the Cuesta Grade; tankers crashed in Atascadero; tankers exploded in Grover Beach; and last year, 11 freight cars plunged into the Feather River Canyon—all on UPRR’s California tracks.

We mustn’t allow Phillips 66 to inseminate us with its rail terminal. The outcomes would last a lifetime.

-- Martin Akel - Nipomo

-- Martin Akel - Mesa Refinery Watch Group

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