Friday, November 28, 2014

Petition Seeks to Limit Length, Weight of Oil Trains/ NJ Regulators Bypassed Public

Petition Seeks to Limit Length, Weight of Oil and Hazardous Material Trains to Prevent More Derailments

Center for Biological Diversity

11/26/14   The Center For Biological Diversity

 Download the 11-page petition here.

Existing Federal Proposals Fail to Sufficiently Protect Public, Environment From “Bomb Trains”

PORTLAND, Ore.— In the face of a dramatic rise in trains carrying explosive crude oil and derailing in a series of devastating accidents, the Center for Biological Diversity and Riverkeeper, Inc. today petitioned the Obama administration to protect the public and environment by significantly reducing the risk of oil train derailments by limiting the length and weight of trains hauling oil and other hazardous liquids.

Federal regulators have acknowledged that the weight and length of oil trains has contributed to derailments and spills in recent years, and that, in all cases, the size of a train compounds the potential significance of a disaster. But agencies have not proposed any solutions to address this concern. In fact the latest federal proposal aimed at improving tanker car safety admits the rule could result in longer, heavier trains.

“One of the quickest ways to make these oil trains safer is limiting how much of this volatile crude oil they can carry,” said Jared Margolis, an attorney at the Center who focuses on the impacts of energy development on endangered species. “The government has acknowledged the dangers of these massive trains — now it needs to take action to protect people and wildlife from spills and derailments.”

Today’s petition calls for oil trains to be limited to 4,000 tons, which is the weight the American Association of Railroads has determined to be a “no problem” train, meaning there would be significantly less risk of derailment. This would limit oil trains to 30 cars. Most oil trains today include about 100 cars — well beyond what the industry has determined to be truly safe.

“Federal regulators have admitted these oil trains pose a significant risk to life, property and the environment, and granting our petition would significantly reduce those risks,” said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director for Riverkeeper. “The government, to date, has left the lid off this explosive industry — setting a cap on train length and weight is a necessary, logical, safety step that is one of the simplest ways to reduce the risks that our communities, first responders and ecosystems are confronted with on a daily basis.” .... read entire press release here

New Jersey regulators bypassed public in permitting oil trains   11/26/14

SHARPLY INCREASING the amount of oil transported by rail through New Jersey is not a "minor modification" and should not have been approved by the state without public notice.

The result is that the public continues to remain largely in the dark about trains carrying crude oil through the area....

...Without a public hearing, the state Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit on Nov. 6 to let Buckeye Partners accept large amounts of Canadian tar sands oil at its Perth Amboy terminal and also granted its request to increase the amount of oil it can transfer there annually to almost 1.8 billion gallons.
This means that an additional 330 oil trains could travel New Jersey's freight lines each year...  read more here

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