Santa Clara Co. rejects oil train project

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved today a resolution against a project that would bring trains carrying oil through the county.

The proposed rail spur extension project in San Luis Obispo County would allow up to five trains with 80 cars to travel through 40 miles of track in the county on a weekly basis.

Each train would carry more than 2 million gallons of crude, Supervisor Cindy Chavez said.

The passed resolution allows the board to send a letter in opposition of the project to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.

Phillips 66, a Texas-based energy company, is considering building an oil unloading facility at its Santa Maria Refinery near Nipomo, an unincorporated community in San Luis Obispo County.

The proposed route would reach Milpitas and downtown San Jose, then run parallel with U.S. Highway 101 through Gilroy and Morgan Hill, according to Chavez.

Supervisor Ken Yeager said the project is “very unsafe” for an urban area like Santa Clara County, which has nearly 2 million residents.

Chavez said one of the affected communities would be San Jose’s Japantown, which received a commendation celebrating their 125th anniversary during today’s board meeting.

The county joins 40 other public agencies and elected officials across the state in opposing the project, according to Chavez.

A draft environmental impact report released last year on the project would create a higher risk for oil spills, fires and explosions.

San Luis Obispo County’s Planning and Building Department is working on creating a final environmental impact report and is reviewing updated regulations from the Department of Transportation and state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.