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Earth Transportation Technology

Feds Issue Emergency Order On Crude Oil Trains 211

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Joan Lowy writes for AP that the Department of Transportation has issued an emergency order requiring that railroads inform state emergency management officials about the movement of large shipments of crude oil through their states and urged shippers not to use older model tanks cars that are easily ruptured in accidents, even at slow speeds. The emergency order follows a warning two weeks ago from outgoing National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman that the department risks a 'higher body count' as the result of fiery oil train accidents if it waits for new safety regulations to become final. There have been nine oil train derailments in the U.S. and Canada since March of last year, many of them resulting in intense fires and sometimes the evacuation of nearby residents, according to the NTSB. The latest was last week, when a CSX train carrying Bakken crude derailed in downtown Lynchburg, Va., sending three tank cars into the James River and shooting flames and black smoke into the air. Concern about the safe transport of crude oil was heightened after a runaway oil train derailed and then exploded last July in the small town of Lac-Megantic in Canada, just across the border from Maine. More than 60 tank cars spilled more than 1.3 million gallons of oil. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings destroyed in the resulting inferno. Hersman says that over her 10 years on the board she has 'seen a lot of difficulty when it comes to safely rules being implemented if we don't have a high enough body count. That is a tombstone mentality. We know the steps that will prevent or mitigate these accidents. What is missing is the will to require people to do so.'"
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Feds Issue Emergency Order On Crude Oil Trains

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  • by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @01:09PM (#46950827)

    Yes, I've been saying this for a while. Pipelines are way safer but we also need stricter pipeline regulations.

    I have three oil pipelines that go through my property. While they are pretty solid, the pipeline companies refuse to do any maintenance (such as when one becomes uncovered in a creek bed where it's supposed to be at least 3 feet underground) until you call the news crews out.

  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @01:30PM (#46951059) Homepage Journal

    There is enough material on the planet, and enough insolation on the planet to provide well over 100% of our energy needs by means of solar. That's a bit of a pipe dream, so reasonable migration steps with nuclear and slowly diminishing fossil fuel dependency is entirely doable. And it would cost us a fraction of our GDP.

    Of all major industries, energy is the field with the lowest ratio of research funding to revenue(most are about 5%, medicine is about 15%, energy is like 1-2%). It's entirely clear we're just not trying much.

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @01:58PM (#46951379) Homepage Journal

    Pipelines can ship solids, liquids, and gasses, Some pipelines are fully capable of transporting crude oil, then immediately transporting refined gasoline, then natural gas, then transporting coal, without huge maintenance cycles between. A client need only purchase transport from the shipper and their load will go through the pipeline.

    It surprised me that you could switch between mediums without decommissioning, fully cleaning, and then recommissioning the pipeline at great expense. Quite the opposite, pipelines do allow for low-cost changeover of medium in normal operation. You cannot pipeline water or other food-grade materials in this way.

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @02:13PM (#46951593)
    Just so we're all clear about what is bullshit and what is actually the concern: some environmentalists such as myself don't care about safety of moving the stuff around. If you manage to make a new carbon sink that can eat up all the carbon being pumped out by the gas, you could deliver it across the country by strapping tanks to the back of baby seals and throwing them via catapult towards crowded cities for all I care. But you won't, and if gas prices stay artificially low, we won't stop driving for any trip longer than a half a block, which is why I'd prefer to stop the pipeline AND see the rails stopped.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson