30 day public comment period on July 20th Consent Decree/Enbridge Energy/Romeoville,IL Spills

For Immediate Release: No. 16-OPA029

There will be a 30 day public comment period on the consent decree lodged today. Information on how to comment on the consent decree will be available in the Federal Register and on the Department of Justice’s website: www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.

CHICAGO (July 20, 2016) –U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice today announced a settlement with Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership and several related Enbridge companies to resolve claims stemming from its 2010 oil spills in Marshall, Mich. and Romeoville, Ill. Enbridge has agreed to spend at least $110 million on a series of measures to prevent spills and improve operations across nearly 2,000 miles of its pipeline system in the Great Lakes region. Enbridge will also pay civil penalties totaling $62 million for Clean Water Act violations — $61 million for discharging at least 20,082 barrels of oil in Marshall and $1 million for discharging at least 6,427 barrels of oil in Romeoville.
In addition, the proposed settlement will resolve Enbridge’s liability under the Oil Pollution Act, based on Enbridge’s commitment to pay over $5.4 million in unreimbursed costs incurred by the government in connection with cleanup of the Marshall spill, as well as all future removal costs incurred by the government in connection with that spill. Today’s settlement includes an extensive set of specific requirements to prevent spills and enhance leak detection capabilities throughout Enbridge’s Lakehead pipeline system – a network of 14 pipelines spanning nearly 2,000 miles across seven states. Enbridge must also take major actions to improve its spill preparedness and emergency response programs. Under the settlement, Enbridge is also required to replace close to 300 miles of one of its pipelines, after obtaining all necessary approvals. Enbridge’s Lakehead System delivers approximately 1.7 million barrels of oil in the United States each day.

“This settlement will make the delivery of our nation’s energy resources safer and more environmentally responsible,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “It requires Enbridge to take robust measures to improve the maintenance and monitoring of its Lakehead pipeline system, protecting lakes, rivers, land and communities across the upper midwest, as well as pay a significant penalty.”

Continue reading 30 day public comment period on July 20th Consent Decree/Enbridge Energy/Romeoville,IL Spills

Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) Hearing Date: Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) Hearing

Wednesday, August 3, 2016 – 9:00am to 8:00pm
US EPA Region 5 Office, Ralph Metcalfe Federal Building
77 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be holding a public hearing on the proposed design details for the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) on Wednesday, August 3rd.

The Clean Power Plan (CPP), establishes limits on carbon emissions from power plants to address climate change.  As part of the CPP,  the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) encourages states to take early action to reduce carbon pollution by investing in renewable energy projects, particularly in economically challenged areas. The EPA needs feedback from the public on several questions, including how “low-income” communities should be defined in the program, and whether renewable energy projects in “low-income” communities should be eligible for double credits.

This is the only hearing that will be taking place in the nation, and it will be right here in Chicago.

If you would like to offer oral testimony at the hearing, please complete the EPA’s Registration Form.

Please note that the hearing will be held in a federal building and you will need to bring a driver’s license or government-issued ID to enter. Additional information about parking and directions can be found on the EPA’s website about this hearing.

July 9th 2016 Saturday-Oil Train: The Routes, The Rail Yards-A Field Trip–10am

On July 9, 2016 Saturday join us to stop oil trains in Chicago!

Please RSVP ASAP if you’re interested in attending Tom via email at tomshepherd2001@yahoo.com.


Please arrive by 9:45am! – Look for yellow school bus at Cermak & Peoria. Ample street parking; or near bus stops and Orange Line. Pack a lunch. $10 covers our cost of the bus
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This event will be hosted by Tom Shepherd with participation by STAND, Railroad Workers United, Frack Free Illinois, ChiOilByRail, Chicago Greens, and Chicago Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke

Oil companies and government are making decisions on new oil train terminals at refineries across the country. But, wherever Big Oil tries to expand, communities across the US and Canada are organizing, and winning.


Bomb Trains in Chicago

They could not look more ominous. The long coal-black tubes announce themselves by their distinctive shape and color, their markings too small to read from the street. The 30,000-gallon tank cars roll, sometimes 100 at a time, in trains of up to one mile in length. Their cargo? Crude oil—as much as three million gallons per train. Nearly all of it is light sweet Bakken crude, a type that is particularly explosive. In whole, these trains constitute likely the biggest, heaviest, and longest combustibles to ever traverse America, and they do so routinely. More pass through Chicago than any other big metro area. Their blast potential has earned them a terrifying nickname: bomb trains.The catastrophic 2013 derailment in the Quebec town of Lac-MéganticThe catastrophic 2013 derailment in the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic

Stand long enough at 18th and Wentworth, on the traffic bridge that separates the newer sections of Chinatown from the largely residential South Loop, and you will spot the tank cars wending their way across neighborhoods on the Near South and West Sides, past playgrounds, schoolyards, and row after row of houses. An estimated 40 of these trains cut through the metro area weekly. There’s no public information on exact routes or timetables; revealing their paths, the logic goes, might aid potential saboteurs, a real risk in an age of terrorism


Until recently, crude on the rails was relatively rare. But since 2008, when Bakken oil began rolling out of newly active fields in the United States—North Dakota is the biggest producer—and toward Eastern refineries, the number of oil tank car shipments has grown 50-fold. That’s pushed the number of accidents up, too. According to U.S. government data, from 1975 to 2012, an average of 25 crude oil spills from tank cars occurred on the rails each year. In 2014, that number rose to 141. Most incidents are minor, such as small leaks. But in cases of a major derailment, the result can be catastrophic, even fatal (see“Terrifying Incidents,” below).

Chicago found that in the last three years there were 17 derailments of crude oil trains in North America significant enough to generate news coverage. In eight of them, the tank cars blew, sending fireballs hundreds of feet into the air, filling the sky with black mushroom clouds. In the most severe cases, the flames produced are so hot that firefighters almost inevitably choose to let them burn out, which can take days, rather than extinguish them. (The Wall Street Journalcalculated that a single tank car of sweet crude carries the energy equivalent of two million sticks of dynamite.) Even when there are no explosions, the spills can wreak havoc on the environment: five of the 17 accidents resulted in the pollution of major waterways, affecting thousands of people across the continent.

Chicago is particularly vulnerable. As the Western Hemisphere’s busiest freight hub, the city has become a center for crude oil traffic, too. High volumes, combined with a densely populated urban setting, have watchdogs such as the Natural Resources Defense Council alarmed. Henry Henderson, the NRDC’s Midwest program director, sums up the threat this way: “Trains with highly explosive materials are traveling through the city on aging tracks in cars that are easily punctured, which can result in devastating explosions.”

Many of these trains cut through what were once industrial rail yards in the city and suburbs. Over the last 35 years, however, much of that property has turned into residential and commercial clusters. “You should assume that if you live in the Chicago area, near a railroad track, that there are trains carrying Bakken crude oil,” says Jim Healy, a member of the DuPage County Board.

Though Chicago has so far been spared a crude oil train crash, the potential of one presents a horrifying picture. One particular nightmare is emblazoned in the minds of first responders, and regulators. On July 6, 2013, a runaway crude oil train, which had been left unattended, sped through the center of the small Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic. Sixty-three cars derailed. Forty-seven people were killed, some literally incinerated while they drank at a bar.

Emergency responders in the Chicago area say they are confident any derailment here could be managed before it reached neighborhood-destroying levels. “Crude is not the threat that everyone says it is,” says Gene Ryan, chief of planning for Cook County’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Ryan and a group of first responders looked closely at 29 major accidents across North America and found that “even though the crude is full of all kinds of volatile materials, the cars did not completely blow apart and hit homes,” he says

But in a city as dense as Chicago, it takes only one freak incident to have a titanic effect on the urban landscape. Just last year, on March 5, on a stretch of track near Galena, Illinois, 21 BNSF Railway train cars carrying 630,000 gallons of Bakken crude derailed and tumbled down an embankment. Five of them burned for three days. At the time, James Joseph, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, told the Chicago Tribune: “We’re fortunate this occurred where it did, in a remote area, and there were no homes around it.”

Experts believe the train was likely headed for Chicago, 160 miles to the east.

Historically, oil in America moved from south (think Texas and Louisiana) to north mostly through pipelines, the safest conduits for it. When newly deployed technologies such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—opened access to sources of oil in North Dakota and elsewhere in the West, few pipelines were in place to move the crude to the refineries back east that could handle it. (A proposed pipeline for Bakken crude running from Stanley, North Dakota, to Patoka, Illinois, has faced political and jurisdictional challenges.) With limited alternatives, oil producers and refiners turned to railroads. In 2014, trains carried 11 percent of the nation’s crude oil.

So what paths do these tank cars take? The exact routes are state secrets. But assuming 40 trains, carrying three million gallons of crude oil each, pass through the Chicago area weekly, that means more than 17 million gallons roll through the city daily. It’s an inexact count, and the NRDC has continued to push to get accurate information. “A lot of people don’t know their residences are adjacent to hazardous cargo,” says Henderson. “The issue should be subject to public discussion, but the public has been cut off from it.”

Using freight maps and firsthand reporting, the West Coast environmental advocacy group Stand has assembled a national map of the most common crude oil train routes and created an interactive website that allows users to determine how far any U.S. location is from these routes. For example, according to the site, half of Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, home to 32,000 people and U.S. Cellular Field, falls squarely within a half-mile “evacuation zone,” established by the U.S. Department of Transportation for areas vulnerable to crude oil train explosions. Stretch that to the one-mile “impact zone” and you include the Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Cook County Juvenile Court.


Pilsen Soil Project Update


See map, which shows

June 2016 Update

Areas 1 through 10 representing segments along the spur and alley.OU 1 consists of an east-west alley between West 21st Street and West Cermak Road and between South Loomis and South Throop Streets. It also includes a railway spur that begins on South Laflin Street behind the Benito Juarez Community Academy athletic field and ending on West Cermak Road just east of South Loomis Street. Starting in November, EPA oversaw the removal of tracks and ties along the railway spur and the excavation and disposal of lead-contaminated soil from the railroad spur and alley. (See map, which shows Areas 1 through 10 representing segments along the spur and alley.)  Area 1 west of the Benito Juarez parking lot driveway has a final compacted gravel cap. Workers have also completed capping with a final asphalt cover on Areas 5, 7, 8 and 9. The eastern part of Area 1 (east of the Benito Juarez parking lot driveway) and Area 2 will have an asphalt cover installed the week of June 20 along with Areas 4, 6 and 10. Area 3 is the area where the railroad spur crossed over South Loomis Street and it is already covered with the street’s asphalt.

Jaunary 2016

Environmental Protection Agency is asking owners of over 100 properties in a portion of the Pilsen neighborhood for permission to take samples in their yards and gardens for lead-contaminated soil.

The specific residential area — referred to as Operable Unit 2 — is bounded by 18th Place to the north, an alley halfway between Allport Street and Racine Avenue to the east, 21st Street to the south, and Loomis Street to the west. There are about 178 residential properties in this 25-acre OU2 site. About 121 of the properties have non-permanent covers in their yards such as bare soil, grass or gravel and are the focus of EPA’s outreach.

If you own a residential property within these boundaries, EPA urges you to complete an access agreement allowing us to sample your property for lead to find out if a cleanup is needed. Turning in your signed access agreement during January and February will help the Agency begin work when the first signs of spring arrive.

https://www.epa.govp June 2016/il/pilsen-area-soil-site


City of Chicago Dept of Planning Open House/June 23 2016 Thursday at Dvorak Park/5:30pm

The City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is leading an effort to draft a land use plan that will build upon each community’s valuable assets, as well as past and current planning efforts, in order to complement and continue this work. Like DPD’s previous Land Use Strategy, the Pilsen – Little Village Land Use Plan will explore issues and opportunities for the key land uses found in both communities, including parks and open spaces, and housing, commercial, and industrial uses. It will establish goals, identify and prioritize opportunity areas, and outline strategies to achieve these goals.