Skip to main content

Defending the San Francisco Bay from Volatile Crude Oil Shipments

The Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery, located near Martinez, California.

The Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery, located near Martinez, California.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Anderer

What's at Stake

Tesoro plans to switch to processing lower-quality crude oil, like Bakken crude and Canadian tar sands, which are dangerous to transport and difficult to clean up in the event of spills.

Low-quality crudes also burn dirtier than other types of crude feedstocks, releasing greater quantities of toxic chemicals.

Overview

Earthjustice, on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Communities for a Better Environment, has sued the California State Lands Commission for approving a 30-year lease for a Suisun Bay marine terminal that will ship hundreds of tankers full of dangerous crude oil, including highly explosive Bakken crude, and petroleum products.

Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company LLC owns and operates California’s fourth-largest refinery, the Golden Eagle Refinery, located near Martinez, California. The refinery depends on its two marine terminals to import crude oil feedstocks and export finished petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. In March 2015, the California State Lands Commission approved a new, 30-year lease for Tesoro’s Avon Marine Terminal.

Tesoro plans to switch to processing lower-cost, lower-quality crude oil, like Bakken crude, California heavy crude, and Canadian tar sands, which would be transported through the marine terminals connected to its refinery. These types of crude oil are dangerous to transport and difficult and expensive to clean up in the event of spills. Recent years have seen a spate of deadly incidents involving these types of oil, including the explosion of a train bearing Bakken crude in Lac-Mégantic in Quebec, Canada, which killed 47 people and destroyed nearly half the town.

Low-quality crudes also burn dirtier than other types of crude feedstocks, releasing greater quantities of air pollutants and toxic chemicals. These pollution burdens would impact a region of the Bay Area already heavily contaminated by the effects of Tesoro’s and other nearby refineries, where residents suffer from high rates of asthma due to these industrial activities.

But, the environmental impact report for Tesoro’s Avon Marine Terminal lease renewal fails to provide crucial information about the environmental and public health risks posed by the dangerous cargo it is intended to handle over the next 30 years.

The lawsuit aims to halt terminal activities until a full environmental review can be completed.

Case ID

2959

Case Updates

July 20, 2015 | Feature

Map: Crude-by-Rail Across America

Railroad shipments of volatile crude oil into America's cities have dramatically increased, with explosive results. See a map of major crude oil train accidents since 2012—and the communities that are fighting back.