The Delaware House unanimously passed legislation requiring the Delaware City Oil Refinery to disclose more information about the crude oil that it’s shipping in by rail.
Since the refinery reopened two years ago, it has expanded its rail shipments of heavy crude oil from the Midwest and Canada. The plant expects to cart 150,000 barrels a day by the end of the year.
The increased activity has concerned residents living near the tracks and the facility.
Earlier this year, PBF Energy and Norfolk Southern held a public hearing for residents to express their concerns.
Many residents took issue with the trains blocking intersections for up to 10 minutes at a time, cutting off EMS and fire trucks from getting to emergency calls quickly.
Residents were also concerned about the increase in noise coming from the tracks at all hours of the night and raised questions about pollution and long-term health effects of the crude passing through their backyards.
The new legislation makes five requests from the facility to help address some of the public concerns.
-Provide monthly reports detailing the crossing times of all PBF inbound and outbound trains at several Delaware crossings
-Increase their communication in an effort to become more efficient in the “crude by rail” shipments so as to avoid delays
-Work with the state and federal governments to develop more quiet zones
-Identify and propose additional infrastructure improvements to the rail lines to help improve efficiency and safety
-Work in conjunction with DelDOT and provide the required funding to maintain safe rail lines and crossings in conformance with federal and DelDOT guidelines and standards.
“We are obviously happy to see the refinery doing well and increasing business, because that means more good-paying jobs for Delawareans. But we also have to keep a close watch on how the refinery’s increased crude shipments affect our communities and make sure we are protecting them,” said Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Delaware City, in a statement. “The biggest step in this process is improving communication between the communities and the refinery about their operations. By working together, we can hopefully address concerns about issues such as traffic, rail infrastructure, safety, pollution and quiet zones.”
Additionally, Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill into law today to eliminate a 36-year-old monetary cap on the fine that can be imposed for oil spills. Delaware’s current limits were significantly below the federal limits.
“Lifting the oil liability limits is an insurance policy for Delaware to ensure our environment is protected should a spill occur,” said Sen. Nicole Poore, D-Delaware City, in a statement.