SEATTLE - City officials are calling on BNSF railroad to provide more detailed information about disaster planning if an oil train should derail and explode in, or under, downtown Seattle.
Trains travel through a mile-long tunnel under downtown built in 1904.
"I believe the threat is so significant here in the heart of Seattle," said the city's new fire chief, Harold Scoggins, at a news conference, alongside Mayor Ed Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell, among other local officials. "I'm not sure when you'd get to the point where it is enough."
Mayor Ed Murray said first responders would not enter the tunnel if an oil train were on fire, since the tunnel is not lit or ventilated.
BNSF, however, insists the tunnel is safe.
The railroad inspects the tracks daily and concluded the tunnel is strong enough to withstand even a terrible oil train explosion, says BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, also at the news conference, was supporting her proposed bill to increase funding for local emergency responders and require more information and disaster plans from railroads.
Sen. Cantwell also called on oil producers to take steps to treat oil so it's less explosive.
So what could happen in an oil train derailment and fire in a populated area?
By March 17, 2015
Jersey City has been named as one of three sites in the nation to host a two-day workshop on safety preparedness in the case of a crude oil delivery disaster.
"Operation Safe Delivery," which is being conducted in partnership with Homeland Security officials and Federal Emergency Management Agency, got underway yesterday. Day Two, which includes response to a mock disaster, is set for Thursday.,,,, more here
[Editor note: Scenario focuses on a catastrophic oil rail transportation incident in Jersey City, New Jersey.
5 tank cars derail, spilling approximately 100,000 gallons of high vapor pressure/low flash point crude oil into dense urban area area. Spilled oil ignites into a pool fire.
Affected Population Estimates for Initial Pool Fire Damage Zones
–1,923 individuals living within 472 yards could potentially receive second-and third-degree burns or fatal injuries
–3,954 individuals living within 631 yards could potentially receive second-and third-degree burns or fatal injuries
–9,299 individuals living within 887 yards could potentially receive second-degree burns
Blast Injury Zones:
–287 people living within 200 yards of explosion could potentially be killed by blast
–830 people living within 340 yards of explosion could be injured or killed by blast
–7,485 people living within 859 yards of explosion could suffer skin lacerations from blast debris
–32,423 people living up to 1446 yards from explosion could suffer minor injuries from blast
Data from Operation Safe Delivery Exercise Series power point presentation.]