Living in the Blast Zone

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Richmond community members, elected political leaders, environmental and health advocates gathered as part of a Stop Oil Trains rally in mid-July. The rally was part of nationwide actions to commemorate a lethal crude-by-rail accident in the city of Lac- Mégantic’s, where 47 people died in a fire.

Native American environmental justice advocates from Idle No More’s San Francisco Bay Area Chapter gathered at Parchester Park in the morning to march to the Stop Oil Trains protest at the Atchison Village.

Richmond is home to a Chevron refinery and is a hotbed of environmental activism.

Below is a photo essay reflecting the concerns of Richmond residents about the potential dangers of coal trains passing through their city.

The Stop Oil Trains actions began with a morning march that was led by Native American elders and community advocates from Idle No More’s San Francisco Bay Area Chapter.

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The march passed by neighborhoods that lie within the one-mile blast zone, the area in danger if an accident occurs on the rails.

 

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Speakers at the rally raised their concerns about the proposed Phillips 66 oil train terminal in San Luis Obispo County, which could bring an additional 2.5 million gallons of toxic and explosive tar sands crude through the city of Richmond everyday.

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The walk passed through open rail coal trains, a cause for concern because coal dust may escape and contains elements of mercury, arsenic and lead.

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“This is about standing up for our safety. We passed a resolution in city council opposing Bakken crude coming into Kinder Morgan facility. We are not going to allow these trains coming to our communities quietly,” said Jael Myrick, Richmond’s Vice Mayor at the Atchison Village.

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Patricia Saint Onge (Six Nations) led a Native American prayer at a stop near Kinder Morgan Inc. “Our great grandchildren are calling to us from the future. They are reminding us that we have a responsibility to them, and the world we leave for them,” she said.

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Thousands of Laotians reside in Richmond, many in or near the blast zone. APEN works to raise the concerns and perspectives of Laotians and their experience living near the Chevron refinery and other chemical plants. Kae Linh Saechao, a Laotian who arrived in Richmond nearly 30 years ago as a refugee of the Vietnam War, expressed her fear of living closely to rails where tar sand crude is being transported.

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