WILMINGTON (CBSLA.com) â The debate over the transport of crude oil by rail has returned as some California refineries have obtained permission to build terminals to accommodate oil trains.
Trains as long as 100Â cars transport cheap crude fracked in North Dakota or oil sand mined in Canada to California.READ MORE: LeBron James Confirms He’s Vaccinated Against COVID
But experts on both sides disagree on whether thatâs a good thing.
âIt helps to get gasoline prices down,â said David Hackett, an oil company consultant. âAnything we can do to get gasoline prices down, in my view, is a good thing.â
But the Wall Street Journal says the prospect of more oil trains rolling through the state may be a reality soon. In fact, six cities across the state have now approved plans for oil-train terminals.
The California Energy Commission estimates that up to six trains a day could soon be coming.
Hackett says the move will accelerate a decline in gas prices across California and reduce dependency on expensive imported oil.
âThe good it does is it backs out expensive imported crude oil that comes from long distance, places like, Saudi Arabia and Iraq and Russia,â Hackett told KCAL9 Political Reporter Dave Bryan.
But not everyone sees this as a good thing.READ MORE: BTS Will Reunite With Its ARMY With 4 Live Shows At SoFi Stadium
âTransporting these 50 and 100 tanker car trains of crude oil thatâs volatile and flammable and explosive, itâs really dangerous business,â said Diane Bailey, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Environmental groups and some community activists say the trains are dangerous, their cargo is explosive and the damage to the environment is serious.
Tom Williams, who worked on oil-related projects as an engineer for 20 years, serves as the senior technical adviser to the Citizens Coalition for Safe Community. He says the tank cars are problematic.
âThe tank cars are not made for the type of oil thatâs being shipped for such long distances and at high temperatures,â Williams contends. âAs you increase the number of tank cars traveling 24 hours, 30 hours, 36 hours in a trip, each way, youâre creating a moving time bomb.â
A report from Hackett found that there have been seven serious accidents in the U.S. and Canada involving oil trains in the past 15 months.
But Hackett says the railroads and the oil companies are addressing the problems, including the tanker cars.
âCrude oil thatâs been going into these cars meets the specification for those cars,â he said. âNonetheless, the cars blew up when they fell off the tracks, right? And so, there is a full-scale redesign program for cars underway, as we speak.â
Hackett says that by early 2015, a decision is likely to be made about the next specifications for rail cars in order to make them safer.MORE NEWS: Student Fights Off Suspect In Violent Overnight Attack Near Chapman University Dorm: 'I Chased Him Back Up The Stairs, Cursing Him Out'
Meanwhile, some energy experts say they believe the first large-scale terminal will probably be built in Bakersfield. From there, they say, the oil could be transported to Los Angeles or San Francisco through oil pipelines. However, even some in the industry are not convinced that the oil-train flood will come anytime soon.