‘Safety is in the hands of these fighters’

April 12, 2021

Below is a letter the Militant received from Jeri Mullan about the Marathon workers fight in St. Paul Park.

I have been following with special interest the Militant coverage of the Marathon oil workers’ fight in St. Paul Park. For years I worked in a small school there.

In St. Paul Park, all year round, the refinery sets off its sirens once a month to check the warning system for explosions in the refinery. In this town with a little over 5,000 people, an explosion at the Marathon oil refinery that sits at the end of the main street in town, would leave nothing standing.

You can count the line of rail tankers running parallel to the refinery coming in. The peril of explosion lies in all the materials that are shipped by rail into and out of the refinery along with the dangers of production in the refinery itself.

The Canadian Pacific rail line that carries those materials passes through my neighborhood. In the Twin Cities we are surrounded by a rail grid running trains that sometimes haul one hundred or more tankers. I live in an area that has been marked off by the city in zones that take into account the possibility of a derailment. The city has a plan in case of a derailment that sets off an explosion — it’s a cleanup plan. Hazmat will come in after the event is over.

No promises to deal with safety issues that would prevent a rail disaster.

No promises to set an evacuation plan in place. You’re on your own for that.

Two hundred oil refinery workers at the Marathon refinery stand against risk of disaster that puts an entire town at risk. A fight that is understood by union support among nurses, teachers, truck drivers, rail workers, letter carriers, Metro transit workers, to name just some of those who send their support to St. Paul Park. Safety is in the hands of these fighters.