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San Luis Obispo County Rejects Proposal To Allow Oil Refinery Expansion To Handle Massive Oil Trains

(Phillips 66 photo)
Phillips 66 wanted to increase shipments of oil by train to its Nipomo facility

San Luis Obispo County Supervisors today rejected a controversial proposal to allow expansion of a Central Coast oil refinery to handle massive oil trains.

Supervisors looked at a plan by Phillips 66 to allow a 1.3 mile long new rail spur at the company’s Nipomo refinery, as well as other related facilities. It’s an issue which drew opposition from around the state, with communities like Santa Barbara, Goleta, and San Jose among those taking stands because of safety concerns about the potential for massive trains passing through their neighborhoods.

The company wanted 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  two appeals were filed to send the issue to County Supervisors for a final decision.

The proposal created a firestorm of controversy mostly focused on the safety of the trains. More than 200 people testified at the hearing, with many saying they were worried about the potential for an accident involving the trains. Project supporters contended the trains were a safe way to move oil.

After a day and a half long hearing, Supervisors voted 3-1 to uphold the County Planning Commission decision denying the project.

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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