Opinion » Letters

The rail expansion debate isn't about NIMBY

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The Phillips 66 “rail expansion” is a euphemism for the railroad depot proposed across Highway 1 from hundreds of residences at Monarch Dunes. That depot would take about two years to construct on the sands south of the refinery in an area already polluted by particulate matter at a dangerous level. 

Phillips proposes bringing in five “unit trains” each week, each composed of 80 fuel-laden DOT 111 tankers, tankers proposed for eventual discard as “not sufficiently safe.” Each unit will be pulled by three locomotives, which will idle during the entire unloading process. 

Furthermore, the depot will be lighted through the night, and precautionary horn blasts are permitted by the environmental impact report, any time necessary, day or night, any day of the week. All are designated as Class I impacts (“cannot be mitigated”). 

In addition, the route passes through the Nipomo Mesa, Guadalupe, and Santa Maria. In the event of an explosion or fire, an adequate emergency response plan is nonexistent, and the taxpayer would absorb the cost in the long run. Any “mitigations” to real dangers imposed by SLO County can be removed or overruled by the federal government or the railroad, both of which take precedence in regulation.

Does it still sound so innocuous? Now you know what motivates the thousands of letters of objection from affected cities, counties, and individuals sent in opposition to this project. 

NIMBY is not the problem: how many more fiery explosions, fires, evacuations, and deaths will it take (and there have been several across the country and Canada)? 

-- Istar Holliday - Arroyo Grande

-- Istar Holliday - Arroyo Grande

-- Istar Holliday - Arroyo Grande

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