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“Lawmakers question safety of crude-oil trains”

A train leaves Spokane, Wash., a funnel for rail traffic to the Pacific Coast Energy firms want to move more raw materials through the region.
Photo credit: Rajah Bose for The New York Times.

Editor’s Note:
With one of the proposed train routes though the town of Rainier, this looks to become a contentious issue for Thurston County.

From Brad Shannon in The Olympian:
“As U.S. oil production soars and additional Canadian oil resources are becoming available stateside, crude oil is being shipped by rail through communities with greater frequency. Washington is no exception.

Oil-laden trains carrying crude from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota pass through the South Sound every day or two, headed to refineries in Tacoma and Anacortes. Export terminals on the drawing board for Vancouver and Grays Harbor are likely to send even more trains across the state. Some may come through the South Sound.

How many, how often and along which routes those are questions without clear answers. So far, the oil and rail industries are not saying much, which has stirred enough worry that Washington state lawmakers and local community leaders are starting to look into it.”

“But lawmakers do not appear to be reassured about rail shipments. Nor do advocates for environmental safety, who cited a recent report by McClatchy Newspapers on a huge increase in rail spills of oil last year.

The McClatchy report analyzed nearly four decades of federal data on oil spills and found that more crude oil spilled last year in rail accidents than over the rest of the period since 1975.”

“With that uncertainty in mind, Democratic Rep. Jessyn Farrell of Seattle has proposed House Bill 2347. Farrell said she is seeking more sunlight on the operations of oil companies and railroads that are shipping crude oil by rail. She said she also wants to give the Department of Ecology and communities more tools so they can anticipate and respond quickly to spills.”
Read more

– Today’s Editorial in The Olympian:
“Legislature should extend oil-shipping fee to rail”
Read more

– UPDATE: February 13, 2014
“Regulators ask PSE for more data on coal”
By Brad Shannon in The Olympian.
Read more

– UPDATE: March 29, 2014
“US government: Industry hampering oil train safety”
By the AP on KING 5-TV News in Seattle.
Read more

Posted by Steve on January 31, 2014 at 4:53 am | Permalink

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