The Delaware City Refining Company hosted a Community Open House, at the request of State Representative Valerie Longhurst and State Senator Nicole Poore, to discuss and answer questions on DCR’s new rail operations. Representatives from Norfolk Southern Corporation and various local emergency response personnel were also in attendance.
This was a community meeting to discuss plans to increase the already increased train traffic to the Delaware City Refinery of dirty tar sands/fracked oil from Canada and North Dakota. Reps. Earl Jaques, John Kowalko, Valerie Longhurst and Ed Osienski have expressed concerns about the impact the increased number of railcars would have on traffic and safety. Local legislators and residents were surprised by the news from PBF Energy and rail officials and felt they were not properly notified of the plans, which would have a significant impact on the health, safety and well being of the citizens of NCC. These trains pass through our backyards, near our schools and our businesses. The community was never informed of this increase or asked for input. There’s no transparency with this Refinery and their safety track record is abysmal. We need to act to have our voices and concerns heard.
200 people attended the Delaware City Refinery’s open house at Wilbur Elementary School to ask questions about the refinery’s recent expansion of its crude-by-rail program, which is bringing Alberta tar sands and fracked shale oil from North Dakota by train.
The questions were not answered. Lisa Hodaei, a homeowner new to the area, was there: “I simply asked them to address the boiler/sulfur dioxide release 4 weeks ago, to better explain the difference in the processing of tar sands vs. crude, and to detail more about how the solid, liquid, and gaseous waste would be handled/where it would be going, etc., all of which they totally evaded.”
Citizens attending the meeting were concerned about Delaware’s 2nd highest incidence rate of cancer in the US and the impact this more toxic crude will have on that cancer rate.
Questions regarding increased railroad traffic made up a sizeable part of the discussion, but the focus was less on horns and whistles than on public safety issues, such as cutting communities off from emergency responders. While Norfolk Southern representatives said they try to block conventional roadways for 8 minutes, they couldn’t explain why a train was recently timed at blocking traffic for 24 minutes. Nor was the contradiction of PBF’s promise that intersections would not be blocked at certain times resolved with Norfolk Southern’s assertion that rail traffic needs to be able to move anywhere, at any time.
Another participant stated, “Delaware’s reputation for cancer clusters is one we don’t want. While improved treatment of cancer patients is a worthy goal, a better game plan would be to reduce the situations and conditions that make cancer so prevalent in the first place.”
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