Cantwell, Spokane Leaders to Announce Oil Train Safety Plans
Senator to hear from first responders, tour downtown fire station near rail corridor that sees up to 16 trains per weekMedia Advisory: U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell Press Office 202-224-8277
SPOKANE, WA – At 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) will join Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and local firefighters to announce next steps on Cantwell’s federal legislation to enact strong new safety standards for trains hauling flammable crude oil through Spokane and other cities in Washington state and across the country.
Cantwell will meet with firefighters at Spokane Fire Station #4 and see equipment that first responders would use to respond to potential derailments. Cantwell will also learn more about needs for training and equipment, and emergency response planning for potential oil train derailment. Up to 16 trains pass through Spokane every week.
There have been four fiery derailments involving oil trains since the start of February. On March 25, Cantwell, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Crude-By-Rail Safety Act of 2015. The legislation requires the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to draft new regulations to mitigate the volatility of gases in crude oil shipped via tank car and immediately halts the use of older-model tank cars that have been shown to be at high risk for puncturing and catching fire in derailments.
The bill also would authorize funding for first responder training, equipment and emergency preparedness.
The State Journal
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In the last few years, rail road traffic through the Twin Cities has reached an all-time high. With the increased traffic there’s also been an increase in derailments, like the one we saw earlier this month in Ontario Canada. However it’s not the derailments that have many concerned, it’s what those trains are carrying — crude oil.
“We have an ongoing situation of course, where the railroads are highly congested right now with all types of freight,” Dave Christianson, senior planner for Minnesota’s rail and freight lines, said.
Christianson says on a daily basis 120 trains pass through some of Minnesota’s most populated areas, like north Minneapolis, the Como neighborhood and east St. Paul. It’s not the exactly the high traffic causing concern, it’s the cargo.
“Part of that is crude oil coming from Bakken [North Dakota] through the Twin Cities,” Christianson said.
It’s volatile material and if it spills in the Twin Cities it could be deadly, like in July of 2013 in Lac-Megantic, Quebec where 47 people died when a train derailed in the center of town.... more here