Phillips 66 & Oil Trains FAQs

 

  • How much oil would be brought to this refinery on rail?

    • The project would bring in 1.5 mile-long trains with old tank cars, each carrying 2.5 million gallons of crude oil, 5 days a week.

  • Is there an existing oil train terminal at this facility in San Luis Obispo?

    • No. There is an oil refinery in Nipomo, which processes crude oil via pipeline. This project would be a new rail terminal, radically altering the way Phillips 66 does business.

  • Are oil trains already traveling through SLO County?

    • There are currently a limited number of oil trains traveling through SLO County on the Union Pacific line, an average of 1-2 per week. This project would bring in an additional 5 trains per week, greatly increasing the risk of spills & derailments.

  • What kind of oil would the trains carry? How is tar sands different from Bakken?

    • The primary source of oil for this project would be Canadian tar sands, one of the dirtiest and most extreme fuels on the planet. Tar sands are toxic, corrosive, and explosive - not a good combination. Oil trains are often called “bomb trains” for a reason - in the event of a derailment or accident, they easily catch fire and explode. Tar sands are also very corrosive, which increases the potential of leaks and spills, especially with the older tank cars.

    • Tar sands does not float in water, it sinks. And there is no established method for cleaning up tar sands spills. The Kalamazoo River, which was a victim of a tar sands spill in 2010, is still contaminated today.

  • Who makes the decision on whether to build the oil train terminal?

    • The San Luis Obispo Planning Commission will make the decision to reject or authorize the permit for the oil train project (Nipomo is in SLO County), though the decision will likely be appealed to the SLO Board of Supervisors.

  • Why does Phillips 66 want this new terminal?

    • Phillips 66 has proposed this project, they say, because they are looking for alternative sources of oil. But the refinery is in no danger of closing (even their spokesperson has admitted that); they would just like to increase production & profits.

    • According to the Phillips 66 website, the jobs potential of the project includes 30-50 temporary jobs for a 9-month construction period, and the possibility of “several” permanent jobs. This is a insignificant benefit, especially when weighed against all the public safety risks and the enormous potential economic losses if an accident occurs.

  • If this new terminal is built, where is the intended route and destination of the oil trains?

    • The intended destination of the trains would be the refinery in the Nipomo Mesa. Trains carrying crude oil would be coming through major cities primarily from the north, as the main source of oil will be tar sands from Canada. There will likely be trains that carry toxic by-products & processing agents back up north, doubling the volume of trains.

    • The trains would travel on the Amtrak line from the north, through Paso Robles, Templeton, Atascadero, down the Cuesta Grade into San Luis Obispo, and then through South County to the refinery in Nipomo.

  • What power do cities and counties have to stop or regulate oil trains?

    • Railroads are under federal jurisdiction, meaning cities and counties have NO power to change safety regulations or determine what is transported through their town. However the San Luis Obispo Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors do have the authority to decide whether or not to permit the Phillips 66 rail terminal project, which will bring in 2.5  million gallons of oil per day on trains. If the terminal is permitted, the cities and counties along the route would then have no power to regulate the trains. Stopping local infrastructure projects is the only way that we can protect our communities.