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Hearing Underway On Controversial Proposal To Expand Rail Facility At Central Coast Oil Refinery

(Phillips 66 photo)
Phillips 66 wants to expand its Nipomo refinery's ability to handle rail shipments of oil, a plan which is creating safety and environmental concerns among opponents

A public hearing on a controversial proposal to allow expansion of a Central Coast oil refinery to handle massive oil trains began Monday.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is reviewing the Phillips 66 plan to allow a 1.3 mile long new rail spur at the company’s Nipomo refinery, as well as other related facilities.

The company wants to bring in three 80 car trains a week, with each train carrying 2.2 million gallons of oil. The County Planning Commission rejected the plan, and Phillips appealed the decision to County Supervisors.

The proposal has created a firestorm of controversy over the safety of oil trains. Some people from throughout the state testified they are worried about the potential for an accident involving a train passing through their communities. Project supporters say the trains are a proven, safe way to move oil.

The hearing is expected to continue for much of this week before County Supervisors make a final decision on the proposal.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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