Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oil Trains: Unsafe, Unnecessary and Dangerous to 25 Million Americans

Unsafe and Unnecessary Oil Trains Threaten 25 Million Americans

Ralph Nader   
Trains are the most efficient way to move freight and people. This is why train tracks run through our cities and towns. Our rail system was never designed to move hazardous materials, however; if it was, train tracks would not run next to schools and under football stadiums.

Last summer, environmental watchdog group ForestEthics released a map of North America that shows probable oil train routes. Using Google, anyone can check to see if their home or office is near an oil train route. (Try it out here.)...

.... Two-thirds of the tank cars used to carry crude oil today were considered a "substantial danger to life, property, and the environment" by federal rail safety officials back in 1991.

The remaining one-third of the tank cars are not much better -- these more "modern" cars are tested at 14 to 15 mph, but the average derailment speed for heavy freight trains is 24 mph. And it was the most "modern" tank cars that infamously derailed, caught fire, exploded and poisoned the river in Lynchburg, West Virginia, last May. Other derailments and explosions in North Dakota and Alabama made national news in 2014.....

....The immense public risk these oil trains pose is starting to gain the attention it deserves, but not yet the response. Last summer, the U.S. federal government began the process of writing new safety regulations.....

...Here's the reality -- we don't need new pipelines and we don't need oil by rail. This is "extreme oil," and if we can't transport it safely, we can and must say no. Secretary Foxx needs to help make sure 25 million people living in the blastzone are safe and that means significant regulations and restrictions on potentially catastrophic oil rail cars.

Rather than choosing either of these destructive options, we are fortunate to be able to choose safe, affordable cleaner energy and more efficient energy products, such as vehicles and furnaces, instead. That is the future and it is not a distant future -- it's happening right now.
read more here

Did Wall Street Need to Win the Derivatives Budget Fight to Hedge Against Oil Plunge?

Naked Capitalism     15 Dec 2014 

Conventional wisdom among banking experts is that Wall Street's successful fight last week to get a pet provision into the must-pass budget bill (or in political junkies' shorthand, Cromnibus) as more a demonstration of power and a test for gutting Dodd Frank than a fight that mattered to them. But the provision they got in, which was to undo a portion of Dodd Frank that barred them from having taxpayer-backstopped deposits fund derivative positions, may prove to be more important than it seemed as the collateral damage from the 40% fall in oil prices hits investors and intermediaries.... more here

The Daily News  12/16/14

An overfilled locomotive fuel tank leaked about 200 gallons of diesel Monday night on the tracks between Kelso and Vancouver, according to Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad.
Fuel was leaked out of an overflow line onto the railroad ballast, the gravel and rock bed surrounding the ties and tracks.
Workers discovered the leak when the train stopped at Longview Junction, the area of South Kelso near the Talley Way Park and Ride, BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said Tuesday.....  more here

Bakken dangers: Both the oil and the rail

by: ALAN STANKEVITZ      December 15, 2014    Star Tribune

.....For all practical purposes, we have a rail pipeline passing through our state — and research has shown that, on a per-mile basis, the accident rate is 3 to 3.5 times higher by rail vs. pipeline.

It’s time to stop this smoke-and-mirrors game. We need the petroleum and rail industries, along with our legislators, to meaningfully reduce the volatility of Bakken oil and to remove from service DOT-111 tank cars that carry all hazardous materials, not just the oil in trains with 20 or more cars. Doing anything less is continuing to put our citizens and environment at great risk.  read article here

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