Oil trains even riskier than coal

This past week saw another serious derailment, explosion and fire on a Bakken range oil train. Fortunately, the crash, near Casselton, N.D., did not result in any deaths, this time. The oil trains traveling through Everett several times each day carry that same oil on its way to the refineries in Anacortes and (soon) Cherry Point. This accident demonstrates once again the inadequate safety standards for rail transport of oil in the U.S.

When these trains pass along the Everett waterfront, they are subject to known slide areas (over 200 slides last winter) and through a known earthquake liquifaction zone. The recent derailment in North Dakota required the evacuation of everyone within five miles. Had that happened in Everett, it would have involved tens of thousands of people.

I ask that our local city government join with state and municipal governments across the nation in demanding a moratorium on rail transport of crude oil until the tank car standards can be increased and the rail cars now in use be improved. Anyone can inspect the oil cars as they pass through the switch yards along West Marine View Drive. The latest improvement has been to add “protective” railings around the valve on the tops of the cars and at the car ends to “protect” the cars from being rammed. These measures are obviously inadequate to any but the most naive observer.

Rail transport of crude oil is much more dangerous than the Keystone X-L pipeline that has attracted so much attention from environmentalists. Our ability to stop this dangerous practice is limited since no permits are required for it to continue. Our only hope is to raise the safety standards.

Dean Smith


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