The Hill By Jayni Hein, contributor May 18, 2015
Chicago, Philadelphia and Sacramento, Calif.: These are just a few of the cities within the “blast zones” of mile-long trains carrying flammable crude oil across the country. Twenty-five million Americans live in these vulnerable areas; yet it will be years until dangerous tank cars are retrofitted or retired from the rails, based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new safety standards.
The standards, released on May 1, cover railcars that carry the nation’s growing supply of volatile crude oil produced in the Bakken region of the northern United States and the Canadian tar sands.
While the new rules mark incremental progress, they give residents little reason to rest easy. And more implementation delays could be coming — the American Petroleum Institute filed a petition in federal court on Monday challenging the new rules, and other legal challenges may be on the horizon.
When it comes to oil train derailments, it’s no longer a question of “if,” but “when.”..... more here
PBS NewsHour May 23, 2015 video at site
TRANSCRIPTSTEPHEN FEE: It was just after 2pm on December 30, 2013 when the calls began streaming in. Two trains had collided just half a mile outside Casselton, North Dakota, one loaded with grain, the other with crude oil.
Volunteer fire chief Tim McLean headed straight to the scene.
TIM MCLEAN, CASSELTON FIRE CHIEF: Then I kind of knew, this was going to be a big one, the way it was described on the pagers.
STEPHEN FEE: Community banker Bernie Sinner was meeting with a client in his office. His window is just 50 feet from the rail track.
BERNIE SINNER, FIRST STATE BANK OF NORTH DAKOTA: You could see plumes of black smoke rising pretty high above the tree line, above the buildings that are across the street from us.
STEPHEN FEE: From the town’s main intersection, witnesses could hear explosions as the railcars blew apart, sending fireballs into the sky. Ed McConnell was mayor at the time.
CASSELTON, N.D. MAYOR ED MCCONNELL: They evacuated the southwest corner of town, the part of the town that was most affected by it.
STEPHEN FEE: But once the wind turned, officials put the entire town of 2,500 under a voluntary evacuation order. Some 400 thousand gallons of crude leaked from 18 ruptured cars. The fire burned for a full day.
TIM MCLEAN, CASSELTON FIRE CHIEF: There’d be no battling this fire. Even if you had an endless supply of water...... more here