The Benicia city planning commission, voting unanimously, dealt a dramatic setback Thursday to an oil company's plans to ship crude oil via train through Northern California, including downtown Sacramento, to its local refinery.
After four successive nights of hearings, commissioners rejected Valero Refining Co.'s request to build a rail loading station so it could import oil on two 50-car trains daily, despite a city staff recommendation for approval.
Several commissioners said they were highly uncomfortable with the plan, based on an analysis that says the trains pose a significant unavoidable health hazard to humans and other environmental risks along the route to the Benicia refinery.
City officials said they expect Valero, the largest employer in town, to appeal the commission's decision to the Benicia City Council. A Valero spokesman said his company is disappointed and will sit down to discuss next steps.