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It’s a Crude World: Millions Live Near Volatile Railways

/ Oil Spill, Train Accidents /

It’s a Crude WorldNEW YORK – Oil has become more than just a luxury resource. For millions of Americans, it’s a necessity and the demand for black gold sends millions of gallons of the highly flammable crude oil through cities, towns and backyards across the country.

The preferred mode of transportation from east coast to west is on railways but each year, accidents happen.

On February 16, a train derailed in West Virginia resulting in an explosion and at least seven rail cars caught fire. Due to the volatile crude oil the train was transporting, dozens of nearby homes were forced to evacuate.

“That incident was in Mount Carbon, West Virginia; a town with a population of around 400 people. Imagine if something like this happened on a railway near millions of people like the tracks around New York City,” train accident lawyer Steve Barnes said.

There are thousands of miles of track used by more than a half dozen railroad companies in the business of transporting crude oil. Many of these railways travel through New York metropolitan area.

evac zoneAt the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT), federal authorities have mapped out half-mile-wide ‘evacuation zones’ and mile-wide areas that could be affected if another train accident were to occur.

“These crashes not only cost billions of dollars in damage, they can put lives at risk,” Barnes said.

The US DOT recently predicted there will be an average of 10 dangerous derailments every year for the next two decades.

To see an interactive map of crude oil railways, click here.

Oil Safety a Slippery Issue Nationwide

/ Oil Spill /

Oil Safety a Slippery Issue ST. PAUL, Minn. – Following another global oil disaster, public safety workers are questioning if they are prepared to handle an accident.

In a new report, Minnesota public safety workers told the state they are not fully trained and some did not know what kinds of equipment they need to use to contain an oil fire.

Local governments generally do not have the equipment or personnel to respond to a significant oil transportation incident, such as a large spill or fire,” the report concluded. “None of the responders rated their area’s preparedness as excellent.”

Across the nation, states and municipalities are facing the same the question: are they prepared for an oil disaster?

In Washington state, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are pushing competing bills to improve oil train safety.

The northwestern state saw a spike in crude oil shipments by rail and lawmakers requested more information on safety standards and procedures.

A draft of the study released last month recommended more training for first responders, more railroad inspectors and a series of financial inspections that would make sure those who transport oil can pay for cleanup.

Minnesota Public Safety officials state in their report that they will improve the state’s preparedness. They plan to increase basic oil safety training, and plan large-scale drills with hands-on practices in case such a train accident happens.


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