Getting Serious about Oil Disasters

A train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, in July, killing 47. Mathieu Belanger/Reuters

A train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, in July, killing 47. Mathieu Belanger/Reuters

According to recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, oil carried on trains should be treated the same way as other dangerous materials like explosives or toxic materials. In those cases, rail carriers perform a more detailed security and safety analysis and look for alternative routes to avoid highly populated areas, iconic buildings, landmarks or environmentally sensitive regions.

Railroads should also be required to develop spill-response plans similar to those that are required from pipeline operators, the recommendations said. Those plans would help emergency workers and could help reduce the impact of any spill. In addition, the safety officials also recommended making sure that hazardous cargo was properly classified. Investigators looking into the Lac-Mégantic accident found that the crude oil in transit had been mislabeled into a less hazardous category.

NY Times

It’s interesting to remember that Theodore Roosevelt’s reputation as a reforming Republican and trust buster was cemented with actions he took over Standard Oil’s cavalier and corrupt use of railroads and pipelines to transport oil — in the Midwest.  It’s too much to hope that a similar wave of reform is in the offing but the trio of issues of fracking — rail transport — pipeline safety and growth are stirring the folks in the once radical state of Kansas.  Even, I’ve heard in the never too radical state of Texas.  Citizens of Azle, TX are not at all happy with the swarms of earthquakes that have hit their town in the last several months.  The likely culprit?  Fracking.

Fracking Azle TX

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