Saturday, September 5, 2015

Hazardous materials on trains: little known, safety prep spotty

Lynchburg Train Derailment

Large U.S. Cities Prep for Oil Train Disaster

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM and GEOFF MULVIHILL | September 4, 2015  Claims Journal
They rumble past schools, homes and businesses in dozens of cities around the country – 100-car trains loaded with crude oil from the Upper Midwest.

While railroads have long carried hazardous materials through congested urban areas, cities are now scrambling to formulate emergency plans and to train firefighters amid the latest safety threat: a fiftyfold increase in crude shipments that critics say has put millions of people living or working near the tracks at heightened risk of derailment, fire and explosion.....

.... The AP surveyed emergency management departments in Chicago; Philadelphia; Seattle; Cleveland; Minneapolis; Milwaukee; Pittsburgh; New Orleans; Sacramento, California; Newark, New Jersey; and Buffalo, New York. The responses show emergency planning remains a work in progress even as crude has become one of the nation’s most common hazardous materials transported by rail. Railroads carried some 500,000 carloads last year, up from 9,500 in 2008.

“There could be a huge loss of life if we have a derailment, spill and fire next to a heavily populated area or event,” said Wayne Senter, executive director of the Washington state association of fire chiefs. “That’s what keeps us up at night.”....   more here

Bill aims to upgrade safety for materials sent by rail

Nick Blizzard | The Dayton Daily News    Sept 4, 2015

MIAMISBURG — Chemical toxins such as chlorine gas, radioactive material or explosive crude oil hauled in puncture-prone train cars pass through the region virtually every day, yet authorities — including first-responders — are given little information about what deadly loads are in their midst.

Usually, these materials travel without incident, but when they do not — when an accidental spill occurs — the impact can be deadly, destructive and expensive.

Crude oil trains are derailing and leaking hazardous material in dramatically increasing numbers across the United States, rising from just a single serious incident in 2005 to 47 last year....

..... “It’s actually shocking what comes through the county every day on trains,” said Jeff Galloway, director of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency. “We have every chemical: hydrogen fluoride or chlorine or propane or methane, you name it. In 2012 there were over 23,000 rail cars of hazardous materials and products that flowed through Butler County.”...

... The 5,320 serious hazardous materials incidents since 2005 are a subset of the more than 157,000 hazardous materials incidents reported by carriers to USDOT and analyzed by this newspaper. Serious incidents are defined by the USDOT as hazardous material releases that: cause deaths or major injuries, the evacuation of 25 or more persons, closure of a major roadway, contain certain radioactive materials or severe marine pollutants, alter aircraft operations or contain more than 119 gallons or 882 pounds of a hazardous material....

.... U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and a spokeswoman for U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., all said more must be done at the federal level to improve the safety in the transport of hazardous materials.....   more here


16-car train derails on CSX rail line in eastern Indiana

September 3, 2015    SF Gate
PARKER CITY, Ind. (AP) — Eastern Indiana officials say a 16-car train that derailed near a high school closed a county road for several hours......... Hendrickson says the derailed cars were empty coal cars.....     more here

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