Due to recent disasters involving derailments of trains carrying crude oil, the City of Turlock is becoming increasingly worried of similar incidents possibly occurring within the city.
In the last week, disasters in both the U.S. and Canada, including two in the same region of Canada only days apart, have officials now preparing for such cases in Turlock.
Turlock Fire Chief Tim Lohman briefed Turlock City Council on Tuesday evening and discussed his growing concerns around the transportation of crude oil through Turlock.
Trains carrying oil from the Bakken shale deposits to various parts of California pass through Turlock, both on the Union Pacific Railroad that runs through the middle of town, as well as the railroad running along Santa Fe Avenue.
If such a derailment were to occur near the city, Lohman said Turlock lacks the resources to manage the disaster, nor would the City of Turlock know when a train is scheduled to run through town.
“The simple answer is, no, we don’t know [when crude oil is being transported through Turlock] and we wouldn’t be able to manage something like this,” said Lohman.
Lohman has been attempting to educate himself on the oil railroad transportation and hopes to gain more information on the schedule of the trains.
In addition to the research being done by Lohman, the Turlock Fire Department hopes to send two firefighters to Colorado for free training in dealing with such matters.
U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), who was in attendance at Tuesday’s Council meeting, is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. Denham said he has been working hard and meeting with groups to find safer ways to transport the oil.
"Certainly it’s been a frustration to see that this has been an issue that has been overlooked by members of both the Senate and House,” said Denham.