Last February ,a CSX train carrying more than three million gallons of crude oil derailed in Mount Carbon West Virginia. The fires burned in this town of 2000 for days. Each tank carried 30,000 gallons of Balkken Crude Oil from North Dakota.
Hundreds of families were evacuated after losing their drinking water and electricity when 19 tank cars slammed into each other and caught fire, leaking oil into a Kanawha River tributary and burning a nearby house down to its foundation.
Trains hauling Bakken-region oil have been involved in major accidents in Virginia, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Alabama and Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where 47 people were killed by an explosive derailment in 2013. Reports of oil leaking from railroad tank cars also are increasing, from 12 in 2008 to 186 last year, according to Department of Transportation records reviewed by The Associated Press.
Bombs on Wheels through Sacramento
Valero Refining Company wants to send two 50 oil car trains twice a day through midtown Sacramento. It would join hundred of oil cars that currently travel through midtown on route to Bay Area Refineries. The Central line passes nine blocks from the State Capital through the most densely populated area of Sacramento, passing Homes,Schools .Apartments, Restaurants, Churches and Businesses.
Some of the oil is the volatile Bakken crude
Bakken crude has a highly combustible mix of natural gases including butane, methane and propane.
An investigation by federal authorities of the Mount Carbon derailing using data found on the train’s digital data recorders , revealed the train was traveling at 33 miles per hour at the time of the accident.
Railroads that carry Bakken crude are required to disclose where their trains travel to state emergency officials, under a federal order issued last year covering all shipments of a million gallons or more. CSX called this information proprietary, but more than 20 states rejected its argument, making the information available to the general public as well as first-responders. West Virginia is among those keeping it secret.
According to the Sacramento Bee, a Bakken oil train comes through midtown Sacramento once or twice a week en route to an oil refinery in Richmond.
The Fed wants the industry to build safer cars. The railroads, oil producers and shippers say some of the new safety requirements are unproven and too costly, yet some safety advocates and environmental groups say the regulations aren’t strict enough and still leave too many people at risk.
New rules require stronger tank cars, with thicker shells and higher front and back safety shields for shipping crude oil and other flammable liquids. Older, weaker models that more easily rupture will have to be retrofitted or replaced within three to five years.
A coalition of environmental groups — including Earthjustice, ForestEthics and the Sierra Club — sued, alleging that loopholes could allow some dangerous tank cars to remain on the tracks for up to a decade.
The new rules provide exemptions to trains with fewer than 20 contiguous tank cars of a flammable liquid, such as oil, and for trains with fewer than 35 such tank cars in total.
One oil industry group is challenging the new regulations in court, too, arguing that manufacturers won’t be able to build and retrofit tank cars fast enough to meet the requirements.
The railroad industry is also taking action against the new crude-by-rail rules, filing an appeal of the new rules with the Department of Transportation.
Growing is outrage from the public. The rail tanker is a common sight as they pass through hundreds of cities every day. What people are unaware of is the flammability of the new crude pressured from the ground. The source of the Valero crude is unknown.
As the oil companies increase the amount of shipments, the probability of an catastrophic accident taking place in an densely populated area also increases.