PITTSBURG (KPIX 5) — There have been four major crashes of North American trains carrying crude. Now in an unprecedented move, federal investigators in the U.S. and Canada are saying trains need tighter regulations before disaster strikes again.
A runaway train derails along the U.S. Canada border in July and explodes. 47 people die in an inferno fueled by what is called Bakken crude, a highly flammable fracked oil that the train was carrying.
Today, National Transportation Safety Board officials investigating the accident released a report saying the amount of crude oil being shipped by rail across the united states has spiked 443% since 2005. And to keep accidents like this one from happening again something has got to change, “or else “major loss of life, property damage and environmental consequences can occur.”
Perhaps nowhere is that more clear than in the Bay Area’s refinery towns. Pittsburg residents are fighting to keep a company called Wespac Energy from bringing more than 200,000 barrels a day of the same fracked oil to their town on trains.
Benicia residents are facing off with the Valero refinery over a plan to roll 70,000 barrels of crude a day through their community.
Railroad officials know the dangers. In November the president of the Association of American Railroads suggested the industry build stronger tankers to cut down on accidents. “We are recommending that all new tank cars designed to move flammable liquids be built to even higher standards,” said Eed Hamberger.
Today, the NTSB agreed and suggested that trains also develop new routes to avoid populated areas, and do a better job of properly classifying hazardous cargo, or risk another catastrophic derailment.