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Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

billOver 70 people attended the Save RGV from LNG kickoff campaign on Monday, April 11 to learn more about the  liquefied natural gas export terminals proposed for the Port of Brownsville and the negative impacts they could bring to the Rio Grande Valley.

            Sierra Club member Stefanie Herweck presented a dispatch from Lusby, Maryland where people are fighting the Dominion Cove Point LNG export terminal (currently being litigated by Sierra Club).  Stefanie visited the community last month and was able to interview many residents and activists, as well as see the terminal under construction. The Cove Point terminal is being built in a densely populated area, across the street from residential homes, even though the industry standard has required that LNG export terminals be built at least three miles from populated areas.  Despite the dangers of long term pollution from the gas-fired generators and catastrophic vapor cloud explosions, the agency in charge of permitting LNG export terminals, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), went ahead and approved Cove Point LNG and put thousands of people at serious risk.
           Stefanie made the point that if FERC would rubberstamp such an egregious project, they would certainly ignore the health and safety issues posed by the Port of Brownsville projects.  Those proposed export terminals don’t meet the long-time industry standard for remote siting either.  Texas LNG plans to build its terminal within two miles of Port Isabel and within three miles of Laguna Vista, putting those towns in the evacuation zone.  A three-mile evacuation zone would also close Highway 100, which is the only route off of South Padre Island.
          Stefanie said that the health and safety risks of the LNG industrial complex would be unacceptable and urged the audience to fight them.
           Afterward, Sierran Bill Berg presented a timeline of the Save RGV from LNG campaign with some great photos of many of our events and victories so far, and LRGV Sierra Club president Jim Chapman went over the regulatory process and discussed the effort to recruit people who could file motions to intervene with FERC.  Filing a motion to intervene makes you an official stakeholder.  People who may suffer materially from the LNG export terminals and pipeline may file for intervenor status.  We encourage people who are concerned about how LNG will impact their businesses or property values to file online with FERC as intervenors.  (For more information contact rebekah.hinojosa@sierraclub.org)
            Finally, our new organizer Rebekah divided people into groups for a brainstorm about how we can participate in the Earth Day festivities in Brownsville.  The consensus that developed was to have a No LNG March.  Stay tuned for an invitation for Saturday, April 23!
            The campaign kickoff was a great momentum-building experience for everyone involved, and it will be exciting to see what the next stage in the Save RGV from LNG campaign will bring.

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oil-train-blast-zoneBY JOHN YOUNG

The Port of Brownsville is bringing more health problems our way, along with more safety risks and more damage to local businesses and economies.

Centurion Terminals began construction on terminals in the port that will process a form of crude oil called condensate into diesel and naphtha, which will then be exported.

Centurion expects to receive two train loads of condensate a day. Each will be 120 rail tanker cars full of highly flammable condensate long. The emissions from the trains’ diesel engines will damage human health all along the line.

They carry no liability insurance, and if there is a derailment or fire they will need to clear an area ½ mile in every direction.

The condensate trains will run through neighborhoods in Raymondville, Harlingen, San Benito, Olmito, and Brownsville. None of these communities were given any prior notice. None of them have any say in any of this.

Centurion, the Port, the American Railroad Association, and Union Pacific don’t want to be bothered. They’ve provided the public with false reassurances and misleading answers.

Centurion claims that there will be only one train a week. But it is supposed to offload 160,000 barrels a day, an amount that translates to two trains a day. Centurion originally said about 120 cars per train but now says only 100. Operations were originally to start the 3rd Quarter of 2016, but now not until the summer of 2017.

They’re basically telling us that it’s not that big deal. Relax. The summer of 2017 is over a year away.

The American Railroad Association says railroad accidents have declined 45 percent since 2000. Fine. That says nothing about the health problems the diesel engines cause or the acceptability of the present rate of railroad accidents, and the lives lost, bodies broken, homes demolished, and so on, when accidents occur.

Union Pacific says it’s replacing wooden railroad ties with stronger concrete ties “in many areas” of the country. Here? Before the condensate trains start rolling through?

Union Pacific says it “regularly holds crude oil accident training for fire crews across the United States.” But here? Not yet.

And who’s supposed to pay for the training, special equipment, and public preparedness programs that should be put into place before the trains start rolling?

The Port and Centurion claim the operation will meet all federal rail safety standards. Those standards are inadequate. For example, they 1) don’t require the rail lines to carry liability insurance; 2) set no maximum length on trains (which can run a mile long); 3) don’t require regular rail line maintenance; 4) don’t speak to the increase in childhood deaths before age one from lung problems along diesel train routes or the increase in cancer rates along these routes; and 5) are to be phased in slowly over a ten year period.

Centurion says it will be using the newest, safest tanker cars. But even those experience side punctures at 12.3 mph, bulkhead breaches at 12 to 18 mph. The track speed limit is 50 mph.

Don’t we get to judge those standards ourselves to see if we want better here in the Rio Grande Valley?

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