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Breaking: Oil “Bomb Train” Derailment in Philadelphia Today

January 31, 2015


Second Bakken Shale oil train derailment in Philly in one year

Breaking:  Today the second major oil “bomb train” derailment occurred in Philadelphia, risking residents’ lives, endangering drivers on one of the nation’s busiest highways, I-95, and putting waterways at risk. One year and eleven days ago, early on Martin Luther King Day 2014,  seven cars carrying Bakken Shale crude derailed over the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia in a “near miss from disaster.” That derailment put the entire University of Pennsylvania medical complex, the Schuylkill Expressway, the Veterans Administration, Children’s Hospital, and other major institutions at risk, along with a chunk of Philadelphia’s residential population too big to safely evacuate.

Both accidents were predictable, preventable, and a near miss from potentially catastrophic impacts. There must be no third derailment. That no rupture occurred is extremely lucky. We can’t leave prevention to luck.

From ABC News today:

Philadelphia firefighters and Hazmat crews swarmed the area near Lincoln Financial Field and the Philadelphia Naval Yard after 11 train cars went off the tracks early Saturday morning.

The derailment happened after 3:00 a.m. near South 11th Street just south of Interstate-95.

The cars were carrying crude oil.

After it was determined, there were no ruptured cars, crews turned the incident over to CSX.

CSX officials brought in cranes to upright the cars.

There is no word on what caused the derailment.

Stop the Oil Bomb Trains, Period

Clearly it’s high time to stop the oil bomb trains. Bakken Shale oil, extracted by fracking, accompanied by flaring on a massive scale, has to stay in the ground. To literally see how huge the gas flaring from Bakken Shale oil fracking is, view the giant eerie glow from North Dakota on this map: “Watch fracking gas flares light up the earth at night.”

You don’t have to live in Philadelphia to call your legislators right now to demand an immediate end to the oil bomb trains. Protect people, waterways, our major institutions, health and safety, and climate! But if you do live in Philadelphia, this is the time to begin demanding relentlessly that these trains stop coming through Philly every day, period.

Even while the Yellowstone River continues to be impacted by the huge Bakken Shale oil spill there from a burst pipeline, the industry keeps attempting to frame the argument as “trains vs. pipelines.” But the fact is that while pipelines spill far more gallons of oil altogether than trains or barges, trains are deadly and barges put rivers at risk. None of these risks are acceptable.

Don’t allow this split. The premise — that “the oil needs to get where it needs to go,” as the industry puts it — is false. That’s pure Koch Industries lingo: Koch “primary” is early proving ground for GOP hopefuls (New York Times)

No oil bomb trains, no Pilgrim Pipelines, no Bakken Shale oil by barge, no fracking and flaring in the Bakken. No means no!

Find my state legislator

Find my U.S. Senator and Representative




  1. stevebremner2014 permalink
    January 31, 2015 7:45 pm

    The first time it was close to several major hospitals — HUP, Children’s and VA — and tens of thousands of Drexel and Penn students. This time it was I-95, (along which Obama had presumably come less that 36 hours earlier to get to the Society Hill Sheraton to address the House Democrats?), Broad and Pattison, and the sports stadiums. Third time probably won’t be a charm. Let’s not have a third time!

  2. stevebremner2014 permalink
    January 31, 2015 9:44 pm

    Forgot to mention: There’s a (Daily News/Inky) article about the derailment here:
    CSX freight train partially derails in South Philadelphia

  3. February 1, 2015 3:06 pm

    I was hastily skeptical about the gas flare map. If you follow the links, you’ll see that the data come from NASA and NOAA. Expanding/continuing business-as-usual development/burning fossil fuels is bad enough, but wasting them is unspeakable.

  4. February 1, 2015 8:57 pm

    Moving by rail does have risk. But the amount spilled per ton shipped by pipeline is higher than the amount spilled per ton shipped by rail. Easy to understand why – a spill is limited to a single railcar, or worst case to a handful that derailed while a pipeline keeps flowing out until somebody notices.

    • Iris Marie Bloom permalink
      February 3, 2015 5:15 pm

      It’s accurate, literally, to point out that pipelines spill more oil than oil trains. But the premise that we must choose between one or the other mode of transportation is inaccurate. It’s a false premise. The industry loves to say “the oil needs to get where it needs to go.” But the oil has no needs. The oil was perfectly happy sitting in the shale: no fireballs, no leaks, no spills! We, on the other hand, do have needs. Public safety, public health, clean air, clean water, and a habitable planet are all fundamental needs. Not desires. Not whimsical fantasies. Needs. So we reject the false choice between oil bomb trains on the one hand or disastrous pipeline spills on the other. Energy efficiency, sustainable construction, passive solar, solar thermal, active solar, wind, geothermal, reduced consumption, radically reduced waste, are where we need to put our (pun intended) energy.

  5. David Timmons permalink
    February 2, 2015 10:45 am

    I love how people jump in and declare “we must stop ‘oil bomb’ trains!” Without a complete understanding of what went wrong. No notion of human error, poor track maintenance, or equipment failure. I see nothing here explaining just how these derailments happened, nor then can anyone who knows how to help actually use this article to be productive in any way!
    Let’s just halt all commerce then and offer no realistic fix for the problem! this is one sided, narrow minded journalism at best. To say that both derailments were preventable may be a true statement. But without the facts, and railroading knowledge, this statement is fast and loose at best!
    Those who know not, would be wise to seek counsel on such matters before making such bold statements.
    The truth is, even statistically speaking, rail is at the top of safe transportation options.

    • Iris Marie Bloom permalink
      February 3, 2015 5:09 pm

      Statistically speaking, Bakken Shale oil train derailments have killed more people: remember the 47 people incinerated in Lac Megantic. Statistically speaking, Bakken Shale oil trains have erupted into more fireballs in one year than should happen in a century: Casselton, ND; Lynchburg, VA; Lac Megantic, and more. Statistically speaking, the spills from Bakken Shale oil trains — from the Aliceville, Alabama wetlands to the flaming, polluted river in Lynchburg, VA — have been outrageous. Statistically speaking, two serious derailments in Philadelphia one year apart is beyond outrageous. Statistically speaking, Bakken Shale oil needs to stay in the ground as we hurtle at breakneck speed towards a world of not just 2 degrees celsius warming, but 4, 6, 8 or more degrees. The choice we are making now, every day, thousands of scientists around the world are telling us, is the choice between tremendous discomfort for many, disaster for some (guaranteed already); versus a planet with continuing mass extinctions, increasingly uninhabitable for humans. This choice between the unpleasant and the uninhabitable means that 4/5ths of current fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground. Scientists say we must reduce the carbon emissions from the industrialized North by 10% by 2017 or face certainty of uncontrollable spiralling climate impacts as we pass the 2 degree point. That’s based on climate science. So there is no such thing as safe transport for Bakken Shale oil: none of it is safe for climate, especially with the massive flaring. Those who know nothing about climate impacts, shalefield impacts, previous bomb train spills, fireballs and deaths, and who do not live close to two major derailments in one year in Philadelphia, should seek counsel before making such unsound pronouncements. It does not appear that this commenter is aware of the track record for Bakken Shale oil trains from July 2013 to the present.


  1. The Daily Frack – Feb. 2
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