Friday, March 28, 2014

Looks like good weather for the rally tomorrow...


Great turnout!


Pick Up the Phone

We would like people to call the Governor of Washington and US Senators in DC once a week and ask them to deny the permits, monitor the oil train burps, and protect our community.  You can view and print this flyer from this link: Phone List.  Hang one on your fridge and give one to a friend.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Join VAN's volunteer and internship program

Vancouver Action Network is proud to announce the start of our internship and volunteer program.  If you are a college student, a student of life, or just want to join a winning team and gain or hone skills, you can help us out!  VAN is offering meaningful guided and self guided intern and volunteer opportunities in Vancouver, WA.   Long distance volunteer opportunities exist as well so you can help out from wherever you currently live.  Check the following links for more information about our intern and volunteer activities and do get in contact with us.  **Note- you don't have to fill out an application to volunteer with VAN.** Thanks, the VAN volunteers 

Intern and Volunteer handbook and application 

Our Financial Position *UPDATED 6/17/14*

In the interest of transparency and full disclosure, we will be updating this post as more donations come in.  A big THANK YOU to everyone who has donated thus far!

3/24/14 Matt Landon with Vancouver Action Network - Comments to EFSEC

Standing room only at the Vancouver City Council meeting.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Anonymous donor to match first $1,000 VAN raises! Help us reach our goal! *UPDATED*

Thank you so much for your donations! Thanks to you we've reached our first milestone, the rental of the FLIR GasFindIR 320. We will be posting video and images next week. Vancouver Action Network is proud to announce that an anonymous donor has offered to match VAN's donations, dollar for dollar, up to $1,000 in order to help us achieve our $2,000 scientific monitoring goal.  We will use these funds to rent a FLIR GasfindIR hydrocarbon viewing video camera and to have one Bucket Brigade air monitor sample tested.  These donations will allow VAN to start the world's first citizen monitoring effort of dangerous hydrocarbon emissions from the Bakken oil trains since the US government refuses to conduct monitoring. These trains are already coming through our town.  Please help us monitor these emissions, bust the polluting companies, and protect all railside communities from disaster.  With your help we will change this fight from a defensive one to an offensive one and cost the oil and rail companies billions of dollars.
Our strategy and goals are clear. Science, existing regulation, and public opinion are on our side.  This is a remarkable opportunity to have a HUGE impact on an entire industry with a small sum of money.  Your donation will help protect railside communities across North America.  Please support our ground breaking monitoring efforts by making a donation today.

Thanks to the VAN supporters who have already made donations!  VAN is an all volunteer organization so 100% of your donation goes towards monitoring efforts.  There are several ways to contribute to our organization.  We will be tabling in Vancouver on Saturdays outside the NE entrance to the Farmers Market at 8th and Esther from 9am - 3pm and Sundays at 152 SE Columbia Way on the east side of the Riverwalk parking lot from 1pm - 6pm.  We hold weekly meetings at the Blind Onion, 2900 E Mill Plain Blvd in Vancouver.  Donations will be accepted at all these events.  We also have an indiegogo campaign which can be found here.

You can also contact us via email at, by phone at 503-765-7176, and on Facebook at Vancouver Action Network.

Thank you in advance for your donation.

Matt Landon with Vancouver Action Network

Friday, March 21, 2014

No Oil Port protest 3-20-14 Evergreen bridge

There will be a weekly protest every Thursday from 4:30pm- 5:30pm located at the Evergreen bridge over the I-5 in Vancouver, WA. Will you join us?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

VAN begins use of Public Lab light spectrometer- DATA and fundraising plea

Today marks the beginning of VAN's 3 prong oil train air monitoring program. (see 3-17-14 post below for complete monitoring details)  Thanks to Portland Mike for the gracious temporary loan of a Public Lab desktop light spectrometer.

VAN volunteers may be able to take pictures of gases coming from Bakken crude oil trains and other unhealthy emissions similar to this project -

VAN will be able to monitor the oil trains much more effectively with the FLIR Gasfindir hydrocarbon viewing video camera.  Will you help us reach our fundraising goal of $1,500 for a 5 day rental of this camera?  VAN is currently only able to take donations at our weekly meetings but we are searching for a 501c3 non-profit to act as our fiscal sponsor.  If you know a supportive 501c3 non profit let us know and please make a donation to this worthy project.   

SPECIAL NOTE-- If you live in the apartments facing the railroad along SE Columbia Way in Vancouver, WA and have an internet connection we would love to work with you to document the crude oil train emissions.  Please contact us with the info listed at the top right hand side of this blog.   

We are still calibrating the spectrometer and hope to have some additional data to share by 3-24-14 but till then the below pics show our calibration process.

UPDATE-- VAN volunteers need help from the residents of Vancouver.  If you see an oil train with all black oil cars stopped during a sunny day on Hwy 14 please call (503) 765- 7176 so we can respond with the light spectrometer. VAN scientists were unable to capture additional data this week with the light spectrometer but we are continuing to experiment with this equipment. 


You have to hold it really close to the light bulb to calibrate. 

This is where the magic happens!  It is the "gum stick" video camera.

Monday, March 17, 2014

VAN to Monitor Air Emissions from Bakken Crude Oil Trains

      VAN will begin the first citizen’s scientific monitoring program (that we can find) of air emissions including butane, propane, methane, benzene, and other hydrocarbons  from the Bakken crude oil trains currently coming through Vancouver, WA as soon as we have funding to purchase/ rent the equipment that we need.  Will you help us reach our fundraising goals?   Donations are being accepted at all weekly VAN volunteer meetings. 

Equipment we will use:
1) FLIR Gasfindir hydrocarbon video camera.  There are plenty of videos on Youtube which show how this camera works.  It is the most underutilized tool in the industry.  

2) Summa Canister air monitoring.

Summa canisters are small airtight metal containers. The sampling canister is sent to the field under vacuum and certified leak-free. The canister fills with air at a fixed flow rate over a preset period of time with use of a flow controller. The appropriate preset period should be determined on a case-by-case basis. For example, in residential settings, the period is typically 24 hours. In commercial and industrial settings, samples are normally collected over 8 hours to correspond to an average workday. After the canister is filled, it is sent to an analytical laboratory under the appropriate chain-of-custody protocol and analyzed. Very low detection limits, in the sub­parts per billion volume (ppbv) range are possible.

Courtesy of ALS Environmental.


Currently the US Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration are the only agencies that have rail inspectors even looking at these crude oil rail cars and they aren’t allowed to do scientific monitoring of their emissions—reference CFR 173.24(b) (1) So no one is looking at this air pollution problem.  Here is the Oregonian newspaper article which inspired VAN to start a citizen monitoring program for leaking and off gassing oil trains.  

The industry calls it “burping” so they admit it is happening.  The Bakken oil shippers are  intentionally leaving propane in the oil to “fluff” it up so instead of putting 100% crude into the tank cars they are putting (in theory) 75% crude and 25% gas which makes their profits bigger and we, the communities, take all of the risk of exploding oil trains, environmental devastation, and at the least unhealthy air emissions.   

These "burping" oil train emissions are a “significant revision” to the proposed Tesoro-Savage Oil Export Terminal permit application in Vancouver, WA.   Once we show that these emissions can be monitored then they need to be added into the proposed Tesoro- Savage Export Terminal permit application process as they are not currently addressed.   The permit doesn't even mention these rail car emissions and incorrectly suggests that emissions from mobile sources (the diesel train locomotive engine only) are currently monitored.  There is NO monitoring of "off gassing" or "burping" oil rail cars. The application states that Tesoro-Savage will "heat" the crude oil cars to make the oil flow more freely (so the train won't be mobile at this point) which will only increase the potential off gassing of unburned hydrocarbons into the air at this facility to unhealthy and potentially explosive levels. References- Section 3.2 Air and Section 5.1 Air Emissions Permits and Authorizations

VAN's monitoring program will in effect force the government to admit a problem and begin monitoring these emissions and the data will show that these oil trains are not safe therefore shutting down this crude export project (until monitoring is completed) and changing the way that crude oil is shipped in this country.  

Call the Washington state governor and Washington state US Senators and ask them to require that preliminary monitoring of these oil railcar emissions be started RIGHT NOW so that baseline data can be gathered to better inform the railside communities and fix this incomplete permitting process.   
Governor (800) 562- 6000  Senators (202) 224- 3441 and (202) 224- 2621 
or send them some emails-,,,
VAN will also form an Oil Train Monitoring network to help us know when the oil trains are stopped in Vancouver so we can take pictures and videos and conduct scientific monitoring of trains from public property which is completely legal.   If you live close to the tracks or see oil trains stopped in the Vancouver area we need to get a phone call from you at the number listed on this page.  Stay tuned for more info in how you can participate in this key component of our monitoring effort.  We will also be providing "on the job" training in how to use the equipment and any supportive community members are welcome to attend any monitoring expeditions.   Will you help us reach our fundraising goals?   Donations are being accepted at all weekly VAN volunteer meetings.  Look for meeting information at the top right of this blog. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Protest on I-5 Evergreen Bridge in Vancouver, WA

VAN volunteers plan to hold this protest vigil every Thursday from 4:30pm - 5:30pm (weather permitting before our weekly meetings at 6pm) in an effort to educate the people stuck in traffic and walkers about the proposed Tesoro-Savage oil port.   Will you join us? 

We held this sign on the Evergreen Bridge in Vancouver, WA for about 1 hour. A ton of cars came by and honked (in support) and we handed out fliers to about 40 walkers asking them to call the governor and US senators for Washington State and tell them to deny the proposed Tesoro-Savage oil export terminal. Call 800 562 6000 to leave a message for the WA state governor and all the elected officials in Olympia. Call 202 224 3441 and 202 224 2621 to reach the WA senators in DC. We hope to make this sign holding protest a regular event. Will you join us?