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San Luis Obispo County Closes Door On Controversial Proposal To Ship Trainloads Of Oil To Region

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(Phillips 66 photo)
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San Luis Obispo County Supervisors reject Phillips 66 to modify Nipomo refinery to handle massive new oil shipments by train

San Luis Obispo County Supervisors have rejected a controversial proposal to clear the way for massive shipments of oil by train to the Central Coast.

Phillips 66 wanted to build a 1.3 mile long new rail spur at the company’s Nipomo oil refinery, as related facilities, to handle massive oil trains. The plan to bring in three 80 car trains a week, each carrying 2.2 million gallons of oil, raised concerns among opponents about the potential for accidents, as well as pollution from the train traffic.

Supporters contended trains have a proven safety record. It’s a proposal 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.

Following eight hearings, the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission rejected the plan last year. Phillips appealed the decision to County Supervisors. Some 200 people testified Monday and Tuesday.

While some argued that the plan didn’t fit in with county planning guidelines, the majority of the opposition was linked to safety concerns. San Luis Obispo County Supervisors voted 3-1 to uphold the County Planning Commission decision denying the Phillips 66 application, a final vote which kills the project.

Company officials say they will consider their options. In their appeal letter, they said that to replace the trains, they could use tanker trucks, which could mean 100 round trips a day to the Nipomo refinery.

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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