Personal/Political ~ Josette Brose-Eichar

Josette Brose-Eichar


Is LPG tanker storage SMART?

Posted on March 19, 2024 by Josette Brose-Eichar

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is a fuel gas which contains a flammable mixture of hydrocarbon gases, specifically propane, propylene, butylene, isobutane, and n-butane. LPG is used in heating appliances, cooking equipment, and vehicles.

2 years ago over 100 railroad tanker cars filled with LPG were stored on the tracks owned by Sonoma Marin Area Rapid Transit (SMART) in Schelleville.  At that time concerned citizens under the leadership of Mobilize Sonoma raised valid concerns that these LPG tankers posed a threat to our community and the environment.  The SMART board listened and the tankers were removed.

In a story far too long for this column, SMART also now has freight operations, in addition to what we all voted for and support through sales tax to establish passenger service.

From the Marin Post, SMART Just Got Hit by a Freight Train

Posted by: Mike Arnold Ph.D. – August 22, 2020

“If the SMART Board had stepped up and performed any due diligence on the purchase of (Northwestern Pacific Railroad Co’s) assets, including the Operating Agreement, many of the complex issues associated with this history and the potential financial risks to taxpayer-financed SMART, would have been identified and made public. However, these issues were not raised and the SMART Board members appeared unaware or uninterested in understanding this history.”

SMART is planning to bring 160 LPG tankers back to Schelleville.  According to a SMART power point presentation on January 24 to the Sonoma Valley Community Advisory Commission (SVCAC), there are virtually no safety or environmental concerns, accidents rarely ever happen, and they need money that only storing LPG tanker cars can supply.  It turns out the rest of the freight service that was supposed to provide operational revenue, provides almost nothing and tanker car storage must come back.  In 2023 after the tankers were removed, freight revenue was $7,488 compared to $500,000 to $750,000 when storing the tankers.  Listening to this presentation I had the feeling that the presenter did not even believe or support what he was saying.  If you would like to see and hear for yourself, just watch the SVCAC meeting on Youtube.  About one hour in, this presentation and agenda item start.  Be sure to listen to all the public comments and questions and comments from the SVCAC.

While supporting the growth of passenger and freight rail is to our benefit ecologically, one explosion or spill will be an ecological and economic disaster.  A CEQA review of this hazmat yard is not required.  This seems unreal given this location, close to 2 earthquake faults, constant flooding, soil that will liquefy, proximity to wetlands and a wildlife refuge, homes and a sewage treatment plant. Community members spoke out loud and clear at the SVCAC meeting that these tankers pose a real threat to lives, homes, the environment and vital infrastructure.

SMART can either stay in the freight business if it can replace storing dangerous LPG tankers in Schellville with actual freight hauling or it can quit freight operation altogether.   There are only three businesses using actual freight hauling services, and providing negligible income.

Hopefully this issue will be on the SMART board meeting agenda for April 3.  Zoom access is available.  Or please e-mail board members now: Eric Lucan, Chair [email protected] and Chris Coursey [email protected].

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