Protesters against oil trains detained at Benicia-Martinez rail bridge

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BENICIA (KRON) — Activists protesting the threat of crude oil transporting trains were detained Monday morning as they attempted to hang a 60-foot banner in front of the Benicia-Martinez railroad bridge.

The banner read “Stop Oil Trains Now: Are You in the Blast-Zone.org.”

Activists say the move was part of a plan to kick off a week of action with some 80 scheduled events in opposition to oil trains across the US and Canada.

The Benicia-Martinez Rail Drawbridge crosses the Carquinez Strait near refineries operated by Valera, Tesoro, Shell, and Chevron. Protesters say the span has been identified as a route used on the Blast-Zone.org map as the route used by oil trains moving through the Bay Area.

Organizers say this week’s protests coincide with the second anniversary of the fatal oil train rail disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec that killed 47 people. Here in the Bay Area, the week of action will culminate with a demonstration and march in Richmond on Saturday, demonstrators tell KRON 4 news.

Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), and ForestEthics are all a part of the protest efforts. The groups say the concerns are over the threat of fatal oil train accidents, increased air pollution near railways and refineries, and carbon pollution from the high-carbon crude oil carried by oil trains.

“We are facing a triple threat. Oil trains dangerously roll though to burn filthy crude in refineries from Richmond to LA and Wilmington, all contributing to toxic pollution and global climate catastrophe,” says Jasmin Vargas, CBE, associate director.

Organizers say Saturday’s rally in Richmond is designed as a community event aimed at highlighting the stories of the neighborhoods and residents at risk because of crude oil transporting trains. The demonstration is set for 11 a.m. at Atchison Village Park at Collins Street and West Bissell Avenue.

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