In January 2014, the Governor's Office convened a Rail Safety Working Group (AKA - Interagency Rail Safety Working Group) to examine safety concerns and recommend actions the State of California and others should take in response to the emerging risk posed by increased shipments of crude oil by rail into California. The Group published a Preliminary Findings and Recommendations report on Tuesday, June 10, 2014.
The Working Group includes representatives from the California Public Utilities Commission, California Office of Emergency Services, California Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Toxic Substances Control, California Energy Commission, California Natural Resources Agency, California Office of the State Fire Marshal, Department of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, and Office of Spill Prevention and Response.
The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has a long history of meeting the challenge of responding to major events, whether it involves earthquakes, fires, flooding, drought or hazardous material spills. The mission of Cal OES is: "We protect lives and property, build capabilities, and support our communities for a resilient California." This mission is achieved by serving the public through effective collaboration in preparing for, protection against, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating the impacts of all hazards and threats. Today, there is a new vulnerability to California in the way of HazMat by rail.
Historically oil has come into California by marine vessels. California is the third-biggest refining state in the United States and is expecting a huge increase of oil by rail from places such as Canada and North Dakota. There has been a dramatic increase in oil by rail coming into California. From 2012 to 2013, the State realized an increase of approximately five million barrels of oil by rail, with current projections estimating the increases to reach 150 million barrels annually. Recent reports indicate that the Western United States may bring 500,000 barrels of light oil by rail a day. The increase in transporting this highly flammable "light" crude oil by rail from Bakken Shale production area will result in raising the threat to Californians and our environment by increased risk of hazardous material derailments, explosions, fires, accidental releases, and the potential for crimes and terrorist acts.
In 2015, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 84:
The Regional Railroad Accident Preparedness and Immediate Response law was chaptered into the Emergency Services Act found in the Government Code Title 2. Division 1. Chapter 7. Article 3.9.
The Cal OES, Fire and Rescue Division, Hazardous Materials Section will keep tabs on this ever expanding field and provide Safety Alerts, Emergency Orders, and general information for our stakeholders.
For more detailed information see below or please contact Larry Collings, Deputy Chief Hazardous Materials Section:
Phone: (916) 845-8751
Advises the Cal OES Director on setting the fee and other policy matters for generating funding for the Regional Railroad Accident Preparedness and Immediate Response Fund.
The Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act of 1967 applies to meetings of the Regional Railroad Accident Preparedness and Immediate Response Fund (RRAPIRF) Advisory Committee, which are open to the public. A guide to this act can be found at the following link.