Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ND conditioning standard "flexibility"/ Living with Oil train traffic menace

An oil train rolled east through Fargo, N.D

Flexibility in oil rule has limits

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead    11/05/14

“Flexibility” has emerged as the operative word in a proposed crude oil conditioning standard being developed by the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources. Director Lynn Helms said he is summarizing some 1,200 pages of comment and testimony about how best to prepare volatile Bakken crude for transport. All well and good, but just how flexible “flexibility” will be should be a primary concern.

The drive to “condition” Bakken crude that is transported in rail tank cars accelerated following several derailments and explosions of oil trains....

... The aim is to remove certain volatile components of North Dakota’s light crude oil, thus making it less likely to flash to flame and explode in a train accident. Helms said his department will propose a standard to the Industrial Commission next month.....

...Once again, Helms and company are so focused on the industry’s priorities that his view of “winner or loser” is constricted. An oil conditioning standard must be framed in the broad context of public safety, not what might or might not inconvenience the industry. The “winners” must be homeowners, businesspeople and others who live near oil train rail lines....

Rolling Bombs: Millions of Latinos Live Next Door to a Public Menace, Oil Trains

Javier Sierra    HuffPost

...Parras lives and works in Manchester, the Houston Latino barrio with some of the heaviest oil train traffic in the country.

"Here we have the largest concentration of railroad crossings in the land," says Parras, founder and executive director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, which has been active in Manchester for many years. "When we drive around here, we have to stop and wait for the trains to pass three or four times per trip."

After 9-11, a lot of trains with dangerous cargo were diverted from communities as a matter of precaution and safety. But that is not the case in Manchester.

"This is a big issue because of national security and because of the extreme danger that this brings to communities," says Parras. "The train yards around us containing hundreds of cars are left unguarded and anyone willing to do some serious damage can walk up to them unimpeded."

Since 2005, the oil train traffic in North America has increased 40 fold. At any given moment, some nine million barrels of crude oil are being transported around North America. Yet we haven't seen any real improvements in the safety of these trains. The oil and railroad companies, however, seem to be whistling past the graveyard.......

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