Protesters chained themselves to a fence at the Kinder Morgan rail terminal in Richmond Thursday morning in order to oppose the company’s transport of crude oil by rail.
The protest comes a day before the San Francisco Superior Court is scheduled to hold a hearing on a lawsuit challenging Kinder Morgan’s recently approved permit to transfer crude oil from rail cars to trucks.
Richmond police responded to a report at 7:13 a.m. that about 12 people had chained themselves to a fence at the facility at 1140 Canal Blvd., police Lt. Andre Hill said. Supporters attending the start of the protest stated on Twitter that eight people were chained to the fence.
As of about 9:30 a.m., the protest had been peaceful and no arrests had been made, Hill said. On Twitter, supporters claimed the protest had caused Kinder Morgan to halt some of its transport activities.
“We have a couple of officers over there to monitor the situation,” Hill said.
BNSF Railway officers were also on scene. Calls to Kinder Morgan officials Thursday morning have not been returned.
The protest stems from media reports earlier this year revealing a massive increase in shipments of crude oil to the Kinder Morgan rail terminal, including shipments of the highly volatile Bakken crude from North Dakota.
In July 2013, a train carrying fracked Bakken oil derailed and exploded in a small town in Quebec, killing 47 people and destroying the downtown.
Last year, more crude oil was spilled from train derailments (1.1 million gallons) than during the previous 36 years (792,600 gallons), according to the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Thursday’s protest wasn’t the first at the Richmond facility. In May, more than 100 local residents and environmental activists reportedly rallied at the entrance of the rail yard to oppose the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s decision to issue Kinder Morgan a permit to transfer crude oil from rail cars to trucks without a public hearing. A media investigation reported that Kinder Morgan had been transporting highly volatile crude for months without public members knowing about it.
On Friday, a hearing on the merits of that case is scheduled in San Francisco Superior Court.
Earlier this year, Richmond City Council voted unanimously to urge Congress to halt rail transport of Bakken crude oil through Richmond, citing the potential for spills or explosions.
At the time, Mayor Gayle Mclaughlin, who attended Thursday’s protest, noted that the crude-by-rail shipments are not transported to the Chevron Richmond refinery, which only receives crude oil by ship.
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