Transporting crude oil from areas booming with the hydraulic fracturing revolution relies heavily on railroads. Busier railroads means more derailments and more derailments with trains loaded with old cars filled with oil means more tragedies.
Chris Hart, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, noted the dramatic rise in flammables being transported by rail in a letter to U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley while noting a number of specific oil derailments:
- March 27, 2013, derailment of a Canadian Pacific train involving 14 tank cars of Western Canadian crude oil in Parkers Prairie, Minnesota, that released 15,000 gallons of product.
- January 31, 2014, 11 tank cars of a Canadian National (CN) train transporting North Alberta crude oil in New Augusta, Mississippi, derailed, releasing 50,000 gallons of product.
- February 13, 2014, 19 tank 2 cars of a Norfolk Southern train carrying Western Canadian heavy crude oil derailed in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, releasing 4,300 gallons of product.
- January 7, 2014, 5 tank cars of a CN train carrying Western Canadian (Manitoba/Saskatchewan) crude oil derailed in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, releasing 60,000 gallons of product.
As we enter July, the property damage by oil on rail derailments has already surpassed all of last year and these derailments have affected every region of the country according to a Politico investigation.
As these trains travel through our communities are we safe? Should we have more information and the ability to keep these trains outside densely populated areas? Are there alternatives, and how does the Keystone XL pipeline figure in?
- Kathryne Wolfe, Politico's deputy transportation editor
- Tom "Smitty" Smith, Texas director of Public Citizen, a consumer and citizen advocacy group
*This is the second segment in the July 1 edition of The Source, which airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM. Audio from this segment will be posted by 5:30 p.m.