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San Jose expresses concerns about Central Coast oil train project 

Update: This story is updated to include comments from the office of San Jose City Councilman Johnny Khamis.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose became the latest city to question the proposed Phillips 66 oil train offloading facility in San Luis Obispo County. The city council on Tuesday voted unanimously to prepare a letter to the San Luis Obispo Planning Commission expressing serious concerns about the project. If approved, this facility would bring mile-long oil trains carrying 2.5 million gallons of crude nearly every day through densely populated centers including San Jose.

TankCarCity governments along the rail route affected by the Santa Maria Phillips 66 project have also submitted letters or passed resolutions against crude-by-rail, including Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Martinez, Davis and Moorpark. More than 22,000 people from across California have also voiced opposition to the project.

“The Phillips 66 rail project is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Valerie Love with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s heartening to see so many speaking out against this facility, including now the San Jose City Council. It’s clear that people recognize the danger of this plan and want it stopped in its tracks.”

“The San Jose City Council is speaking for the five million Californians who live in the oil train blast zone when they say that the Phillips 66 expansion plan is dangerous and unnecessary,” said Ethan Buckner with ForestEthics.

One city councilman’s chief of staff disputes Buckner’s assertion. “The council also did not declare the train ‘dangerous and unnecessary’,” says Shane Patrick Connolly of San Jose Councilman Johnny Khamis’s office. “The council was unanimous in directing the city manager to express to the San Luis Obispo Planning Commission concerns about the potential impacts of the proposed project on the safety and well-being of the residents of San Jose that they feel must be addressed as part of the Environmental Impact Report,” Connolly says.

Oil trains have become an increasing concern to cities and towns along the rail routes, as oil train traffic in the U.S. has increased over four thousand percent since 2008. Following this trend, there has been a steep rise in derailments, spills and explosions, with more oil spilled in rail accidents in 2013 than in the previous four decades.

Source: Center for Biological Diversity

Related story: Nearly 11,000 comments filed over Phillips 66 rail project in Nipomo

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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at info@pasoroblesdailynews.com.