A group of South Bay residents plan to rally against a proposed Phillips 66 refinery expansion that would turn the Union Pacific railroad, which cuts through the heart of San Jose, into a route for oil trains.
The proposal would extend the railroad to an 1,800-acre refinery in San Luis Obispo County and allow Phillips 66 to deliver crude oil from Canada on the same line that cuts through Diridon Station.
Concerned residents, who comprise a group called 350 Silicon Valley, worry that the oil trains would imperil the safety of anyone who lives near the tracks. Saturday's protest is part of a nationwide movement and will take place on the two-year anniversary of an oil train explosion that killed 47 people in Quebec.
"We are calling for county planning officials in San Luis Obispo and nationwide to reject planning permission for projects that aim to transport tar sands crude oil by rail or pipeline," Palo Alto resident Steve Eittreim said. "Tar sands need to stay in the ground: there is no safe way to transport them."
The rally will include a number of short speeches, skits and songs to illustrate the dangers of living in what the Department of Transportation calls a "blast zone," a mandatory evacuation area when a trail derails and catches fire. San Francisco-based environmental nonprofit ForestEthics estimated that 195,000 people in San Jose live in a blast zone.
“The Phillips 66 rail project is a disaster waiting to happen,” Valerie Love, of the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “It’s heartening to see so many speaking out against this facility, including the San Jose City Council. It’s clear that people recognize the danger of this plan and want it stopped in its tracks.”
Eittreim encourages people to RSVP for the rally on the 350 Silicon Valley website. The event will run from 3 to 4pm Saturday outside the SAP Center, which is across the street from Diridon Station.