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Backlash Grows Over Plan To Store Fracked Oil In Pittsburg

PITTSBURG (KPIX 5) - Some heavy hitters have come out against a plan to ship a highly-flammable and explosive type of crude oil to Pittsburgh.

A company called WesPac Energy wants to start bringing the substance, known as Bakken shale oil, to the Delta town by rail and to store it there before shipping it to the Bay Area's five refineries via pipeline.

Fear of fracking in California used to be about the drilling, but now concerns have grown over the shale shipped in from North Dakota. That's the same region as the fuel involved in train derailment explosions in North Dakota as well as Quebec. where 47 people were killed.

"These trains are like bombs on railroad tracks. When they derail, they explode," said protester Lyana Monterrey outside a city council hearing on the issue Tuesday night.

WesPac's plans may have hit a major snag as Attorney General Kamala Harris' office just unleashed an 11-page letter slamming the company for failing to mention what type of crude it planned to transport, and for targeting Pittsburg, a city that studies show is the most polluted in the Bay Area with the highest rates of asthma in the county.

WesPac spokesman Art Diefenbach insisted earlier this month that the company's draft environmental impact report covers all of those concerns and said, "The facility is designed to be silent, odorless, and safe."

Many city residents aren't convinced and showed up Tuesday night to voice their opposition.

"We the people, the residents and voters of Pittsburg, ask you the city council to end this clear threat and vote against WestPac," Michael Chricuzio stated in his comments to the council.

The Pittsburg City Council did not make a decision Tuesday night, but did meet with environmentalists and other concerned residents, assuring them that the city is listening to their concerns. Officials have posted additional information on the program online.

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