BAKERSFIELD, CA - The dangers of oil coming through Bakersfield in trains will be coming to the forefront this month. The state announced Thursday it will be in town at the end of July to discuss new emergency regulations.
Kern County is on tap to be the hub of train transportation of volatile oil in California on tracks that pass right through downtown Bakersfield. That's why the discussion of new rules to keep Kern County safe is a top priority of state officials.
Four explosions involving oil trains the last six months of 2013 caused panic across the country last year. It especially caused concern here in Kern County because of two proposed oil train expansion projects. One near Taft and one at the Alon refinery off Rosedale Highway plan to bring in hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day by rail, past Bakersfield neighborhoods.
In June, state lawmakers and the governor aimed to address concerns by passing emergency regulations. The law expands the state's spill response from just the oceans to inland, with strict safety rules. The state says efforts to implement these rules will be collaborative and include federal and county agencies.
"This becomes a collaborative effort," said Alexia Retallack, spokesperson for the Office of Spill Prevention. "The only way we're going to be able to handle any incident is by working together, and partnerships and collaborating with our other state agency partners is critical to us."
The regulations mainly ask private industry to step up safety protocols.This includes having all companies involved in oil transport create worst case spill contingency plans. It will also require all of those companies to get spill insurance.
The public hearing on these regulations will take place July 30th at 9 a.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel.
The state is also having meetings in Sacramento and at the Port of Los Angeles.