Tag Archives: oil trains

Company Apologizes for Oil Train Disaster It Acknowledges Was Inevitable

“We’re playing Russian roulette. I think the industry is perfectly willing to put a gun to our heads and risk our lives for the sake of making money. It is abundantly clear this enterprise is unsafe, unsustainable and they don’t know how to manage it.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-5-2016

Mosier, 6-3-2016. Photo: Paloma Ayala

Mosier, 6-3-2016. Photo: Paloma Ayala via Columbia Riverkeepers

As crews continue efforts to contain an oil sheen on the Columbia River and assess the environmental impact of a derailment and resulting fire on Friday, a spokesperson for the oil-by-train company behind the disaster issued an apology to the community of Mosier, Oregon on Saturday.

“I want to apologize to the community,” Union Pacific spokesperson Raquel Espinoza said at a news conference. “This is the type of accident we work to prevent every day.” Continue reading

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Rolling Bombs and Leaky Pipelines

On Saturday night, a Canadian National Railway (CN) train with 100 tank cars of crude oil derailed about 80 kilometers south of Timmins, Ontario. The derailment was on the CN mainline, in an area inaccessible by road. 29 cars jumped the track, and seven were still burning the following afternoon. An unknown amount of oil was spilled.

Yesterday, twenty five cars of a 109 car CSX train derailed in Adena Village in Fayette County, West Virginia. At least one car ended up in the Kanawha River, while another slammed into a house. At least fourteen cars caught fire, and some exploded. Kelley Gillenwater, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), said that the DEP was told the train was carrying “crude oil and possibly other materials.”

West Virginia, February 16, 2015. Photo via Twitter

West Virginia, February 16, 2015. Photo via Twitter

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Enbridge’s Sandpiper Blues

Image via Facebook

Image via Facebook

On Tuesday, Enbridge Energy announced that the Sandpiper pipeline project will be delayed for at least a year due to permitting problems in Minnesota. The start of construction was to be in 2015, with the pipeline becoming operational in early 2016.

Minnesota regulators have requested a more extensive study of the environmental impacts of six possible routes for the pipeline that have been offered by opponents of Enbridge’s proposed route, which crosses many rivers, streams and wetlands. Enbridge for their part says the alternate routes are longer and more expensive. Furthermore, most don’t terminate in Superior, Wisconsin; the proposed ending spot of the pipeline and a major hub for pipeline distribution.

Needless to say, some were unhappy with the announcement. Calling the pipeline “a very important project” for his state’s oil production, Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said;  “The pipeline will provide growing volumes of crude oil a safe and reliable method of transportation to markets around the United States.”

In some ways, Kringstad almost has a point. The alternative method of transporting the oil is by rail, and we’ve seen how that’s been working for them. We’ve discussed exploding Bakken oil trains on a couple occasions; they in no way represent a safe way of transporting the extremely volatile crude coming out of the Bakken field. But – and this is a huge but – all pipelines leak. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when and how much.

Is either alternative worth the possible consequences? We say no. We’d like to see the time, ingenuity and effort the energy companies put into extracting fossil fuel resources being spent on renewable energy sources instead. To see those companies invest in such things as high speed rail instead of blocking such things because they want to sell more gas to individual people. To have them put the general welfare of the people and the planet above profit. To be responsible stewards instead of reprehensible ones.

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