November 12, 2015

This report from Rachel Maddow is fairly terrifying. Two oil train derailments, both in close proximity to live nuclear missile silos.

This isn't the first time Maddow has reported on this, but in light of the most recent derailments in Wisconsin, she's sounding the alarm again. And rightly so, since at least one of the trains did not have the safety upgrades to prevent explosions.

A rail accident near Alma on Saturday that sent ethanol into the Mississippi River involved a class of tankers that are being phased out and replaced with tankers that have more safety features.

A second accident on Sunday in Watertown that resulted in the spill of crude oil and prompted the evacuation of 35 homes involved tankers that had been retrofitted with some upgrades.

The accidents were the latest in a string of rail tanker mishaps across the United States and Canada that have thrust safety issues and preparedness into the spotlight, including Milwaukee, where oil-laden trains move through the heart of the city.

In both cases, officials said Monday the cause of derailments are not yet known.

In the Mississippi River accident, more than 18,000 gallons of ethanol spilled. An unknown quantity flowed into the river, said Andrew Maguire, the on-scene coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Nothing that went into the river is recoverable. It's gone," Maguire said.

BNSF Railway spokeswoman Amy McBeth said the tanker cars involved in the spill near Alma are DOT-111s.

Those cars lack many safety upgrades of new cars known as CPC-1232s, which were built to carry crude oil. The tankers are stronger and have more safety features than the fleet of older tank cars.

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