A fireball at the site of an oil train derailment near Casselton, N.D., on Dec. 30, 2013. The derailment forced 1,400 residents to evacuate for several days. AP photo
A modest mitigation proposal for what is essentially human sacrifice for those who put out our fires.
By Peter M. Leschak June 6, 2015 Star Tribune
In our volunteer fire hall just after Christmas, we listened to a Minnesota state college instructor discuss why the death rate from cancer and heart disease is significantly higher among firefighters than in the general population. The short answer: hydrogen cyanide. It’s the same substance formerly employed to execute criminals in gas chambers. Source? Burning petrochemicals.
It’s no surprise — at least not to firefighters — that building construction and furnishings have markedly changed in the past four decades. The average home now incorporates 3,000 pounds of petroleum per floor, in the form of everything from insulation to sofa cushions. As President George W. Bush once said, “we are addicted to oil.”
....One of the latest challenges for fire departments in Minnesota and other parts of the nation and world are oil trains coming from the shale fields. In July 2013, at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, tank cars hauling Bakken crude exploded, killing 47 people and destroying half the town. Several months later, another tank car blew up near Casselton, N.D., and the state’s former Gov. (and Casselton native) George Sinner said the oil trains represented a “ridiculous threat.”
True, but don’t sweat it. There is a plan afoot to help prepare fire departments for the ridiculous — details pending. It shouts volumes that the knee-jerk reaction is to expedite another means for firefighters to die.
By Brian Nearing TimesUnion.com June 7, 2015
Albany -With the state pension fund holding about $1.8 billion in stocks from energy companies involved in crude oil trains, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli wants answers from them about steps being taken to reduce the risk of derailments, explosions and fires.In letters written to 14 publicly traded companies, DiNapoli also asked how much insurance coverage they would have to pay for cleanups and damage if disasters struck. Last month, the Times Union reported that Canadian lawmakers are looking at imposing insurance requirements of up to $1 billion on rail companies that operate oil trains and that there are currently no such minimum insurance requirements in the U.S.
Letters from DiNapoli went out to oil giant Exxon Mobil, as well as a Miami-based energy financing company that owned oil carried on the train that blew up in Lac Megantic, Quebec, in July 2013. The explosion killed 47 people and incinerated much of the downtown.
That tragedy sparked a growing national debate over the safety of massive oil trains, which can include more than 100 tankers each carrying 50,000 gallons of highly flammable oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota. There have been derailments and fires in North Dakota, Virginia and Alabama.
"We need to know what companies are doing to safeguard against future mishaps which can lead to serious legal liabilities for the companies. As trustee of the state pension fund, I am concerned that future liability claims may harm the interests of the retirement system's members, retirees and beneficiaries," said DiNapoli on Friday.
His letters also asked the companies to provide information on any efforts to reduce the flammability of oil before it is shipped, as well as to explain who owns the rail cars used to ship oil. Bakken crude is much more flammable than regular crude oil and federal officials recently adopted new rules to phase out the older, less-sturdy tanker cars...... more here