Ban Oil Trains For Good
Ban Oil Trains For Good
Oil trains pose an immediate threat to communities around the country, and it is time we demand immediate action.
The United States Department of Transportation predicts that we will have an average of 10 oil train derailments a year for the next decade, causing more than $4 billion in damages and threatening lives across the country. Despite this prediction, the Department of Transportation is allowing a gradual, nearly decade-long phase-out of the most dangerous tank cars, all while volatile oil on trains is brought through our communities and over our waterways.
Our report, Deadly Crossing: Neglected Bridges & Exploding Oil Trains, written in partnership with STAND and Riverkeeper, showed that many of the bridges these oil trains pass over show signs of neglect and disrepair. The report highlighted that the public cannot access any meaningful information regarding the safety of rail bridges in their community. In response to these concerns, the Department of Transportation implemented a program to share only some inspection reports with local officials.
The public has been told that newer, “safer” rail cars are being used, Bakken crude is being treated to make it less dangerous, and railways are being rigorously inspected for safety. Sadly, these steps are in no way reducing the immense threat that oil trains pose. On June 3, 2016, a train with new rail cars carrying treated Bakken crude derailed and exploded in Mosier, Oregon on tracks that passed inspection just weeks before. Despite implementing the supposedly “new and improved safety measures,” a small defect in the tracks caused a derailment, a massive fire, and an oil spill into the Columbia River.
Due to heroic efforts of firefighters and good fortune, no one died. Residents were told they were “lucky,” as the uncharacteristically calm weather that day is the only reason the fire did not spread and engulf a nearby school filled with children, as well as the rest of the town. The residents of Mosier could not use their plumbing or drinking water for days after the derailment. Despite all of this, Union Pacific restarted train traffic just 2 days after the fiery derailment while thousands of gallons of oil sat in tankers just feet away from the tracks - still dripping from the derailed tank cars.
With 10 oil train derailments predicted per year, many communities have nothing more than “luck” keeping them safe from an oil train disaster. Why should communities be forced bear this risk? After the “lucky” Mosier “near miss,” it is now clear - oil trains are unsafe and need to be stopped. Only the federal government has that power and we, the people, need to push the government to do the right thing for our communities and waterways.
Will you join us in calling on the federal government to stop gambling with lives? Please take a stand and demand a complete ban on oil trains. We call on the Department of Transportation to recognize that oil trains are inherently unsafe for our communities and waterways, and to use all available authority to stop oil train traffic throughout the country.
*Photo courtesy of Columbia Riverkeeper