by Leslie Layton
Chico, with its state university, valley oaks, coffee shops and bike paths, feels more collegial than industrial, a place that’s far from the contamination and accidents that plague oil country. But the people in bright orange “Stop Toxic Oil Trains” T-shirts – they sometimes appear at Saturday Farmers Market and other events – say that when oil country rolls through Butte County, it brings accident potential here.
No one seems to be sure how many oil trains pass through the Feather River Canyon on Union Pacific’s (UP) Oroville route that snakes above the north fork of the Feather River, but the activists in orange T-shirts want to stop crude-by-rail shipments on that route. That’s because derailment and a spill of oil or another hazardous substance could contaminate Lake Oroville and poison the water supply that serves millions of Californians.