Sept 17, 2014 by Luke Thoburn, KHQ News Producer KHQ.com
Sandpoint Fire Department Captain Jake Hilton says the department has dealt with train derailments in the past, but a new rail bridge could increase the possibility of that happening: "I'm concerned about the potential for the increased train traffic. As it is, Sandpoint has a lot of trains going through it on a daily basis and I think it's going to get worse and worse as the crude oil gets transported."
BNSF Spokesperson, Gus Melonas says rail traffic will only increase if demand for certain products like oil and coal are high.
Since the city has no say in whether or not the rail company puts in a new rail bridge, first responders are forced to be reactive. Hilton says they're capable of responding, but would also need the help of additional resources, many of which are hours away...... more here
California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) estimates there are about 5,000 railroad bridges in California, but doesn’t really know for sure. They are privately owned and inspected and were off the public radar until oil companies started shipping dangerous crude by rail to California refineries in increasingly large quantities.
Governments are not ready to have volatile loads of cargo rolling through sensitive habitats across the state, much less through heavily-populated metropolitan areas. But help is on the way. In March, the CPUC requested funding (pdf) for seven inspectors to specifically handle oil-by-rail, and two of them would focus on bridges.
The Contra Costa Times reported last week that the two inspectors have not yet been hired, but when they are, they will be the only two inspectors checking out the bridges. They will be assisted in their task by the sole federal inspector assigned to the area―an area that includes 11 states.
One of their first jobs will be to find the bridges. There is no comprehensive list. Judging by some industry comments, there may be some reluctance on the part of rail owners to provide all the information the government might ask...... more here