Oil Railcar Surge Creates Worry In Small U.S. Towns

As trains increasingly carry huge volumes of flammable crude oil across the U.S., rural communities bisected by railroads worry about safety in the wake of a deadly train crash and tanker explosion in Canada.

As trains hauling crude oil across the U.S. and Canada become a more frequent sight, officials in small towns and cities are growing increasingly worried over possible derailments, the Associated Press reports.

In July, the crude train that derailed in Lac Megantic, Quebec further stoked the fears of officials in U.S. towns.

The deadly oil train disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec on July 5, left over 30 people dead, and contaminated over 60 miles of local drinking water sources,

Since 2009, the number of carloads transported by U.S. railroads has drastically escalated, from 10,840 to an estimated 400,000 this year.

"It's a grave concern," said Dan Sietsema, the emergency coordinator in northeastern Montana's Roosevelt County, where oil trains pass through the city Wolf Point regularly.

"It has the ability to wipe out a town like Wolf Point."

In a review of federal hazardous material accident records, the AP found they involved small quantities of oil, and railroads say 99.997 percent of hazardous materials that are shipped arrive at destinations safely. Fuzzy math, eh?

However two major reports in July detailed by Desmogblog reveal oil, gas, and coal – the fossil fuel trio -- are inherently unsafe industries regardless of the mode of transport.

And with the dramatic rise in drilling activity across key oil and gas producing states, such as North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wyoming, people indeed have cause for concern.


About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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