Inslee: More must be done to improve oil train safety

OLYMPIA — Communities throughout Washington need more resources and their emergency responders require more training to be ready to deal with accidents involving oil trains, according to a draft report released Wednesday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

And while the state considers investing millions of dollars into preparing and preventing such incidents, the federal government must move quicker to get safer oil tank cars onto the rails, Inslee said at a press conference in Seattle

“Today, the health and safety of Washington’s residents are at risk,” Inslee said. “Oil trains are running through Washington every day that are outdated, inadequate and outright dangerous. This is unacceptable to me and I’m sure to every Washingtonian.”

The report, prepared by the Department of Ecology and other state agencies, examines transportation of oil by train and marine tanker in Washington.

Most of the focus is on rail shipments, which have grown from virtually none in 2011 to 17 million barrels, or roughly 714 million gallons, in 2013, according to the study. This year, the numbers are expected to be 55 million barrels, or 2.3 billion gallons.

A series of recommendations calls for spending additional money to develop emergency plans, to buy oil response equipment, and to provide more training for firefighters and first responders.

Also, Inslee is asking the federal government to require newer tank cars be deployed by October 2016, one year earlier than is currently planned. And he wants the federal government to impose a maximum speed of 40 mph for oil trains when traveling through populated areas.

The report can be read online at http://tinyurl.com/k6kyld9.

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