Breaking: Yet another Bakken Shale oil train explodes into flames
Fourth Major Explosion of Shale Oil Trains in Six Months
Breaking: By yesterday evening, 21 cars were on fire, defying attempts to minimize another devastating oil train tableau of destruction. During the day yesterday, on Monday, December 30th, media reports said that ten cars of a North Dakota oil train burst into flames, with “at least five powerful explosions,” as reported by the New York Times:
At least 10 tank cars burst into flames on Monday after a train carrying crude oil struck another train about a mile outside the small town of Casselton, state officials said. The accident, which caused at least five powerful explosions, occurred after a westbound train carrying soybeans derailed and an eastbound train hauling oil ran into it, said Cecily Fong, public information officer with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.
Officials encouraged residents within a five-mile radius to evacuate, to avoid contact with the toxic smoke.
Two mile-long Bakken Shale oil and gas trains come through Philadelphia every day, endangering densely populated neighborhoods. Community leaders have not been informed or consulted regarding safety and evacuation plans as the dangerous trains, with their abysmal record, have ramped up. Health and safety impacts include the trains’ off-gassing of hydrocarbons while sitting still on hot tracks in the summertime, as well as the dangers of derailment, explosions, fire and smoke.
StateImpact PA reporter Katie Colaneri posted this breaking story two hours ago:
Federal transportation safety officials are on the scene in North Dakota where a BNSF train carrying crude oil from the Bakken Shale collided with another train and exploded Monday afternoon, the latest in a rash of incidents in the crude-by-rail boom.
Around 2:10 p.m. yesterday afternoon, an eastbound crude oil unit train collided with a westbound grain train that had derailed on an adjacent track. The collision caused the unit train to derail and set off a series of explosions. As of Monday evening, 21 cars were on fire, according to a statement from BNSF. Residents in nearby Casselton, North Dakota have been evacuated.
Bloomberg reports it is the fourth serious accident involving crude oil trains in North America in the last six months.
The final destination of the mile-long unit train is not yet clear. A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board said the agency “is focusing on safety” in the immediate area of the explosion.
Rail shipments ramped up in 2013 to keep pace with oil production in the Bakken which is soon expected to hit one million barrels per day. Philadelphia Energy Solutions is the single largest consumer of Bakken crude, accepting two trainloads or 160,000 barrels of oil each day as of this fall. The refinery cut the ribbon on a new state-of-the-art rail unloading facility in South Philadelphia in October.
Read the full StateImpact PA story here.
Please begin the New Year by writing your local elected officials to ask what the evacuation plan is for your neighborhood if a Bakken Shale train is traveling within five miles of you. The trains carry fracked oil, and fracked gas: some of the tank cars that have exploded in previous incidents carried LPG, Liquified Petroleum Gas, commonly known as propane, a lucrative product of shale fracking.
For starters, if you live within five miles of 30th Street Station, in Center City Philadelphia; or within five miles of where the Lincoln Drive / Ridge Avenue exit comes off the Schuylkill Expressway; or within five miles of Bartrams Garden in West Philadelphia; or within five miles of Philadelphia Energy Solutions in Southwest Philadelphia… that means you.
Ready to evacuate? If not, start telling your electeds you don’t want that shale train — which is helping to destroy our climate, contributing to health harms on the Wind River Indian Reservation and elsewhere in North Dakota; and contributing disproportionately to future sea level rise — anywhere near you.
Think locally, act globally. And think globally, act locally. When it comes to the Bakken Shale oil trains campaign, it all comes together. Start the new year by acting for climate justice while protecting our communities!