Police have arrested three protesters for blocking train tracks that would carry crude oil into the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes. About twenty folks had demonstrated on the tracks, in the aftermath of an recent oil train derailment in Seattle, two hours south of the refinery.
In recent years, unit (100 tanker car) trains have brought crude to this and other west coast refineries from the burgeoning Bakken oil fields of north Dakota and vicinity. These vast increases in train traffic have sharpened folks' fear of a catastrophic oil train accident, that would cause massive casualties and release thousands of gallons of oil pollution.
The railroads have been reluctant to disclose the magnitude and routes of their oil shipments, even after the horrors of the Lac-Megantic train disaster in Canada that killed 42.
The Tesoro (formerly Shell) Refinery began operations as a Texaco refinery on Washington's north coast about 40 years ago, to process Alaskan crude after the Trans-Alaskan pipeline began operation.
This refinery also receives Tar Sands crude via a pipeline from Canada.
In 2010, the refinery exploded, killing seven workers. Tesoro paid a $2.39 million fine and paid out a $39 million settlement to the famillies of the killed workers.
In 1998, the refinery exploded, killing six workers. Shell paid a $4.4 million settlement with the agencies and a $45 million settlement with the killed workers' surviving families.