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Philadelphia City Council Adopts Resolution on Dangerous Oil Trains

March 12, 2015

Calls for substandard tank cars to be prohibited, highest safety standards for new tank cars, public disclosure of train traffic and emergency response community forums

Philadelphia, PA – Today Philadelphia City Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling for action by the federal government, rail companies and Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management to address threats posed by the train transport of Bakken crude oil through Philadelphia.

The resolution calls for substandard DOT111s and other presently used tank cars that carry Bakken crude to be stopped and urges the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to issue specifications for tank cars that meet the highest safety standards for crude by rail. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced the resolution that was fully supported by the Council today.

The resolution also calls for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to publicly disclose train schedule and route information and for the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to share with the public the emergency response plans specific to oil train derailments at community workshops.  Testimony at City Council today was made that hundreds of thousands of people are within the evacuation zone of the train route in Philadelphia and that people don’t know anything about the threat and need to know what to do should there be an accident.  The resolution calls for OEM to work pro-actively to update the City’s emergency response plans.

“City Council has taken a stand to protect Philadelphians from these dirty and dangerous oil trains. We look to the companies that are profiting from this enormous and rapidly expanding oil transport to take their cue from City Council and voluntarily stop using DOT111s and CPC1232s for the sake of the people who live and work here.  Philadelphia Energy Solutions (the refinery, PES) and CSX must recognize the profits they make are not worth endangering public safety, our water supplies, and the City’s economic well-being. A derailment catastrophe can be avoided here but not while these explosive oil trains roll through Philadelphia,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

“We hope OEM starts to take crude by rail more seriously by engaging the public and showing transparency and for the federal government to pass strong tank car regulations when the Department of Transportation releases its final rule in May. Public safety and the environment have been sacrificed by industry and the federal government for economics and the expediency of delivering crude by rail, for too long,” said Brooks Mountcastle, Eastern PA Director for Clean Water Action.

Testimony by several residents and organizations pointed out that two to three oil trains of 100 cars or more, each carrying about three million gallons of highly volatile and flammable domestic crude oil, course through the City every day in tank cars deemed unsafe by federal agencies.  The tank cars that are used – DOT111s and CPC 1232s – are prone to puncture, explode, and catch fire when derailed, even at very low speeds (DOT 111s puncture at speeds in excess of 8 mph).

Speakers pointed out that most of the oil trains go to the PES refinery in South Philadelphia, which is expanding its operations, meaning more oil train traffic. Today PES is the largest single customer of Bakken crude in the nation, operates the largest oil train rail yard in the U.S., and is the largest oil refinery on the Eastern Seaboard.

Several speakers referenced the four fiery oil train derailments that occurred in just the last month in the U.S. and Canada, heightening fears along the oil train routes. Oil train derailments have sharply risen since Bakken crude oil began to be fracked in North Dakota in the last two years. The Associated Press reported that a USDOT report predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of ten times per year over the next two decades, killing hundreds of people and racking up damages exceeding $4 billion nationwide.

Speakers reminded City Council members that Philadelphia had two near disasters when CSX train cars derailed on January 20, 2014 and January 31, 2015 in the City. Some stated it was just a matter of time before a disaster occurs here unless something is done. There are hundreds of thousands of people within the blast zone of the train tracks in Philadelphia.

Councilman Johnson was thanked repeatedly by speakers for his leadership and City Council members were recognized for standing up for public safety.  Speakers said they see this as a crucial first step in addressing the enormous risks and pollution that crude by rail brings to the City and the look forward to working with the City to put public safety and the environment first.


Contacts:  Tracy Carluccio, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, 215-369-1188 x 104

Brooks Mountcastle, Clean Water Action, 215-545-0250 x 203


Action Alert: Philadelphia City Council to Vote on Oil Trains March 12th

March 11, 2015

You’ve seen them: the mile-long trains with black cylindrical cars full of fracked Bakken Shale oil, coming through Philadelphia neighborhoods, snaking along next to and over the Schuylkill River, mere yards from I-76 and I-95 in places. Every one of them is a potential disaster for residents, railway and emergency workers, and for the City of Philadelphia.

We’ve had enough!  Tomorrow, Philadelphia City Council will finally vote on pressing the feds to ban the unsafe rail cars (and more: details below). Action in Philly can help provoke municipalities large and small all over America, where 25 million people are at risk from oil bomb trains, to act. So help us all make sure Philly does the right thing Thursday!

What: City Council Vote on Oil Trains Resolution #150129

When: Thursday, March 12, 10:00 am (it’s first on the agenda)

Where: Philadelphia City Hall, Broad and Market Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Sign up: Arrive at 9:45 AM with photo ID and sign up in Room 400 to give public comment.(If you arrive late, you can still speak when asked whether anyone else wishes to speak. But please come on time to maximize the power of our presence!)

Bring small paper signs to hold up: “YES on oil train resolution” “STOP the oil train madness” “Oil trains kill!” “Protect Our People / Water / Climate / Safety: No Exploding Oil Trains!”

Please call and write to thank Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and call your City Councilperson to say “Vote Yes” for the Protect Philadelphia oil train resolution – No. 150129.  See Delaware Riverkeeper’s Action Alert here

Background:  Protecting Our Waters calls for a complete moratorium on oil trains, for climateas well as safety reasons. It’s absurd: at least four oil-by-rail derailments and fires in four weeks– two in Ontario, one in West Virginia and one in Illinois. As if the derailments in Lac-Megantic; in Aliceville, AL; Casselton, ND; and Lynchburg, VA weren’t already enough! While we join Center for Biological Diversity and others in standing for a complete moratorium — which City Council’s resolution will not support — we nonetheless urge you strongly to support Resolution 150129 because:

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s resolution calls for banning the unsafe tank cars transporting highly volatile and flammable Bakken crude through Philadelphia; for public disclosure of train schedules and crude by rail movements through the City; and for community meetings by the Office of Emergency Management to share information about emergency response plans if a crude-by-rail fire and/or spill occur. (What is the evacuation plan? Evacuation zones in many of the Bakken crude disasters so far have been one to five miles due to toxic smoke as well as fire.)

Note: PennEnvironment’s report, Danger Around the Bend: The Threat of Oil Trains in Pennsylvania shows that 710,000 Philadelphians live within the evacuation zone of oil train routes. You can also use their action alert to communicate with City Council online: Tell your Councilperson to support these critical protections before the vote.

In case you missed it: Our Coalition put out a press release after the West Virginia derailment and fireball February 16th (but before the Illinois and Ontario derailments and fires last week.) View it here: Catastrophic Oil Train Derailment in West Virginia is an Accident Waiting to Happen in Philadelphia.

Enough with the fireballs. Enough with rivers on fire. Enough with people fleeing from their homes and barely escaping with their lives. Enough with the climate damage. Enough with Philadelphia Energy Solutions — aka Philadelphia Energy Suicide — playing fast and loose with our lives, while harming North Dakota residents hurt by the fracking and flaring. PES brings more risk, more asthma, more flaring, more emissions and more climate damage every day with every oil bomb train.

Protect Philadelphia from Dangerous Oil Trains! Make your voice count.

Tell City Council to Pass Resolution 150129 on March 12th! 

Pssst: Remember: Rebut the use of oil train explosions as an argument for more dirty, dangerous, climate-damaging, water-polluting fossil fuel pipelines. Pipelines spill more than oil trains. Pipelines also explode. The answer is “none of the above.” We need to keep 4/5ths of all known oil and gas reserves in the ground to protect climate. Yes to: energy efficiency, reduced consumption, ending war (U.S. military is world’s biggest user of oil), sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy! 

Ann, Iris, Claudia, Ana, Steve, Marta, and all the POW Organizers

Oil Bomb Train Derails, Explodes in IL; PA, NJ, NY, VA Push Back

March 6, 2015

As yet another oil “bomb train” burns, this time in Illinois about 1000 feet from the Galena River — with a one-mile evacuation zone — the message could not be more clear. The newer, “safer” 1232 rail cars are exploding just like the “unsafe” DOT-111 rail cars. The DOT-111 cars were implicated in many derailments since 47 people were killed by an exploding Bakken Shale oil train in Lac Megantic, Canada in July 2013. But as the February 16th West Virginia fireball and today’s oil cars aflame demonstrate, it’s not the rail cars, it’s the cargo: uber-flammable Bakken Shale oil is not safe by rail, by pipeline, or by barge.

Here is major news coverage followed by organizers and officials responding in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and New York:

Reuters: BNSF oil train derails in rural Illinois; two cars aflame

Chicago Tribune: BNSF: Oil train derailment near Galena involved safer tank cars (includes video)

Huffington Post: Freight train carrying crude derails near Illinois city (photos)

Chicago Sun-Times: Agencies mobilize after crude oil train derails, catches fire near Galena

KWQC: Moment by moment updates, photos on site in Galena breaking news: UPDATE: BNSF to set up claims center after derailment


Flames from BNSF Bakken Shale oil train derailed directly adjacent to the Galena River in Illinois, March 5th, 2015. Photo: Mike Bureley, thonline

 Related: PA, NJ, NY, VA news:

Philadelphia City Council will vote on a Resolution to protect residents from exploding oil trains on Thursday, March 12th. Come in person. To testify, call the Clerk: (215) 686-3410 on Tues. or Weds.

What: Philadelphia City Council general meeting

When: Thursday, March 12th, 10 AM.

Where: City Hall, Broad and Market Streets, 4th Floor, Council Chambers. Remember to bring your photo ID.

Bring: Small paper signs, no sticks, with your messages, such as: “Ban the bomb trains,” “Ban DOT-111 and 1232 rail cars,” “Protect Philly: No Flaming, no Flaring, no Fracking Bakken Shale Oil Trains”

New Jersey: Rally and Press conference Saturday, March 7th, 2015:

Host:  Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains
What: Rally & Press Conference
When: Sat. March 7 at 2pm – 3:30 pm
Where: Abram Demaree Homestead, Corner of Schraalenburgh Road & Old Hook Road at Oradell Reservoir overpass, Closter, NJ.
Parking: available at United Water, 200 Old Hook Road, Harrington Park, NJ – short walk to homestead & farm.
Contact: Rosemary Dreger Carey
mobile: 201-841-5171

                                                                                                                                                                              Pennsylvania statewide: After three oil train derailments in Pennsylvania in little over one year, PennEnvironment assessed who’s at risk, and where. See their report: Danger Around the Bend.

Virginia: Officials have proposed a $361,000 civil fine to CSX for the Lynchburg derailment and spill last year, plus the costs of investigating the derailment. The massive conflagration and oil spill caused the river to catch fire when a CSX oil train derailed, exploded and burned near Lynchburg last year.

New York: The town of Esopus, already in harm’s way from both oil trains and barges, is also threatened by the controversial proposed Pilgrim Pipelines, which would carry Bakken Shale oil south from Albany to Linden, NJ and refined products like jet fuel and gasoline north, doubling the risk of explosions and leaks. Esopus is holding a forum tomorrow, opposing Pilgrim pipelines with the theme: “Oil trains vs. barges vs. pipelines: A False Choice”:

What: The Esopus Pilgrim Pipelines Community Forum

When: Saturday, March 7th from 10:30 AM to 12 noon

Where: Esopus Library, 128 Canal Street, Port Ewen, New York. 

Speakers: Jen Metzger, Citizens for Local Power and Councilmember, Town of Rosendale; Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper; Iris Marie Bloom, Protecting Our Waters and Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines-NY.

Special Appearance: Sen. Kevin Cahill, or staffer, will make a special announcement at the forum.

Hat tips to Tracy Carluccio, Coryn Wolk, Chris Spatz, Adam Garber, and Rosemary Carey for news links. 

Catastrophic Oil Train Derailment in West Virginia is an Accident Waiting to Happen in Philadelphia

February 20, 2015

Catastrophic Oil Train Derailment in West Virginia is an Accident Waiting to Happen in Philadelphia

Organizations call on City Council and regulators to step up to protect Philadelphia residents NOW


Tracy Carluccio, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, 215-369-1188 x 104

Mary Donahue, Clean Water Action, 215-545-0250 x 206

Matt Walker, Clean Air Council, 215-567-4004 x121

Adam Garber, PennEnvironment, (215) 732-5897

Ann Dixon, Protecting Our Waters,

Philadelphia, PA – Update February 20th: As we go to press with this post on derailments, the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery lost control of heavy flaring while processing Bakken Shale oil today, sending large clouds of black smoke over southwest Philadelphia and scaring residents of the densely populated neighborhoods.

A CSX train carrying Bakken crude oil from North Dakota careened off the tracks along the Kanawha River at Adena Village and Boomer, West Virginia upstream of Charleston, during a snow storm Monday. A powerful fireball explosion led to evacuation of residents within a half mile, according to news reports.

The train was carrying more than 100 tank cars of highly volatile crude oil when 20 rail cars caught fire, with 26 cars derailed. At least one car fell into the river. The river was set afire and one house was burned as a fireball rose an estimated 300 feet into the air. Residents fled for their lives in frigid temperatures. One resident has been hospitalized, several hundred people are in community shelters, and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency. The fires still burned late Tuesday night. Water intakes on the river have been closed due to oil in the river.

On January 31, in south Philadelphia, 11 tank cars carrying crude oil derailed in the CSX rail yard along the Delaware River next to Rt. 95. There has been a veritable black out of any information about how and why the derailment occurred and any safety or environmental impacts. There has been no follow up reporting about what occurred at the rail yard, how the tank cars were righted, what type of tank cars were involved and the level of risk for neighboring areas and the river if the trains had spilled, punctured or caught fire. This is disturbing because the public is shut out of the most basic information about events that could have very big effects on them.

On January 20th last year, Philadelphia dodged a bullet when seven cars from a CSX oil train derailed. One of the tank cars carrying crude oil dangled over the river from the Schuylkill Arsenal Bridge for days. CSX has made no safety improvements since this accidents. In fact, the volume of dangerous crude being carried through Philadelphia  and the region has increased, increasing risk and opportunities for pollution.

These near-disasters have left many Philadelphia residents asking not IF a catastrophe like the West Virginia calamity will happen here but WHEN it will happen. Two to three mile-long trains carrying domestic crude roll through Philadelphia neighborhoods every day to the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery, which is expanding its operations. Today PES is the largest single customer of Bakken crude in the nation. Hundreds of thousands of people live within the blast zone of the train tracks in Philadelphia.

“West Virginia’s derailment is a horrifying reminder of what could happen in Philadelphia. The possibility of an explosive oil train derailment threatens our health and safety every day. We need action from City Council and the Office of Emergency Management and we need to know what is being done to prevent a catastrophe,” said Mary Donahue, Program Organizer, Clean Water Action.

“CSX is the operator responsible for both derailments here in Philadelphia and for this horrific disaster in West Virginia and many more across the nation. Crude by rail accidents are increasing as fast as the oil is being fracked and loaded into these substandard tank cars on old rickety train tracks and railroad bridges. Where is City Council and emergency management when we need them to protect the City from these unacceptable risks? We are sitting ducks here in Philly, waiting for a catastrophe just like West Virginia’s and no one in authority seems to care,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

“I live in University City near train tracks that run along the Schuylkill River and near the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. If a train explodes here, the river, homes (including my own) and hospital could be destroyed.  Oil trains must be banned,” asserted resident Ann Dixon, member of Protecting Our Waters.

“It was extremely fortunate that no one was seriously hurt by the derailment and explosion in West Virginia,” said Matt Walker, Community Outreach Director with Clean Air Council.” If an explosion were to happen in Philadelphia, with our high population density and higher number of older oil trains, it could have catastrophic impacts to residents, businesses, universities, and hospitals. While the federal government plans to slowly phase out older tank cars, this doesn’t address the inherent volatility of Bakken crude oil, which can cause explosions even in newer tank cars like those in the West Virginia accident,” added Walker.

“Oil trains are an outrageous risk to our communities. These trains are barreling through Pennsylvania putting the lives of hundreds of thousands at risk and it’s time our elected officials ended this threat before a disaster like West Virginia happens here,” said Adam Garber of PennEnvironment.

A coalition of organizations has requested City Council to adopt a resolution banning DOT 111s and taking other actions to protect the City from oil train pollution and danger.  The letter submitted to City Council and the draft resolution can be found here:



February 20, 2015

Breaking: Just as we were about to publish this week’s press release deploring the inaction, lack of investigation and complete lack of safety plan for bomb train incidents in Philadelphia in the aftermath of three oil train derailments in three days, Feb 14 – 16 2015, we learned about TODAY’s heavy flaring and smoke erupting from the Philadelphia Energy Suicide (PES) refinery.  NBC: “Flare Up at South Philadelphia Refinery Prompts Calls

We know of no air monitoring whatsoever done by the City of Philadelphia or the Pennsylvania DEP. PES naturally claims the smoky air is pure and clean. See no evil. Call PES, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, for more information about this incident: Cherice Corley 215 339 7061. The City of Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management Director is Samantha Phillips: call her at  215 – 686 – 4465.

Questions: how many times has PES has already flared and sent toxic clouds of smoke over southwest Philadelphia? How many times they will be allowed to flare and smoke before they experience any consequences whatsoever? Most importantly, when will the oil bomb trains be stopped completely?

Now that we know the new rail cars are as unsafe as the old DOT-111 rail cars, we must demand a complete halt on the oil bomb trains. Philadelphia has had two major derailments (one seven cars; one eleven cars) in just over one year. There must not be a third time. Too many risk being incinerated. Stop the oil bomb trains.

Embedded image permalink

Smoke from Philadelphia Energy Solutions (known locally as Philadelphia Energy Suicide) refinery fire wafts over southwest Philadelphia neighborhood. Photo from Twitter post by @CorynWolk February 20th, 2015

February 16th: “Canadian National Railway train carrying crude derails in northern Ontario

February 18th: “North Dakota Oil Train Safeguards Too Little Too Late” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow chronicles three oil train derailments in three days: two in Canada on Valentine’s Day and the West Virginia disaster on February 16th, with special guest Russell Gold. This is a must-watch for the background details about Bakken Shale oil exploding due to its high propane, ethane and butane content — a completely avoidable problem — and due to its spectacular footage from Lynchburg, from the Kanawha River, and from the two most recent derailments in Canada less than one week ago.

Unfortunately, Rachel and Russell leave out the linkage to the ongoing climate disaster and leave unstated the obvious and necessary solution: keep the rest of the Bakken Shale oil in the ground. Four fifths of the current known oil reserves in the world must stay in the ground for us to avoid making our planet uninhabitable due to extreme climate change, scientists say.




Video: Five major pipeline ruptures in January 2015

February 3, 2015

North Dakota. Mississippi. North Dakota again. Montana. West Virginia. Watch the footage of pipeline explosions, fireballs and spills in just the first month of 2015, and you’re likely to join Rachel Maddow in asking, “How much more pipeline can we take?” Fracked oil, fracked gas, fracked natural gas liquids (ethane), and toxic brine from fracking spilled by the millions of gallons into water, air, and land, while the climate impacts go un-estimated, as usual. One explosion was so massive that it was picked up as a “weather event.”

On January 28th, 2015, the Rachel Maddow Show condensed footage of all five January disasters into just 3 minutes.

Maura Stephens, an educator and journalist based at Ithaca College, has created a factual companion narrative (and commentary) providing background information on each of the incidents. She also shows how this 3 minute montage may be used as an organizing tool. Maura Stephens’ narrative:

Here is context for the  3:36-minute clip (could be cut to 3:05, per below) from the Rachel Maddow Show featuring five January 2015 pipeline explosions/ruptures in the USA. Background facts about the five January explosions and ruptures, in chronological order:

                                                                                                                                                                                                     1. On January 6, 2015, a massive pipeline leak in North Dakota began and sent a reported 3 million gallons of frack-waste brine into two creeks near Williston, Blacktail Creek and the Little Muddy River, whence it emptied into the Missouri River, one of Williston’s drinking water sources. Compliments of Summit Midstream, it was the largest toxic frack-brine spill in the state’s history; the fracking byproduct contains heavy salts plus fracking fluids and petroleum. (Poor, poor Missouri River: During major floods last Marchflooded oil will spilled into the river near its confluence with the Yellowstone, where the rising floodwaters threatened 38 oil wells.

                                                                                                                                                                                                         Three years before that, during midsummer floods in July, an oil well ruptured and spilled 900 gallons into the Missouri River in North Dakota [the oil wells’ owner: “Clearly, I should have been more prepared, but it didn’t occur to me that the water would go over our 10-foot (containment) dike. When I heard this, I felt terrible. I don’t think I slept an hour last night”]. And two weeks before that, a ruptured crude-oil pipeline had spewed 42,000 gallons into the Yellowstone, which runs into the Missouri River a few miles south. A recent New York Times investigation found that 18.4 million gallons of oil and chemical substances leaked into North Dakota’s air, water, and soil between 2006 and October 2014.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. On the morning of Wednesday, January 14, residents were shocked when a massive fiery explosion of a 30-inch gas pipe run by Gulf South Pipeline near the Barnett Reservoir in Rankin County, Mississippi lit up the sky; a swath of forest burned, and the plume was picked up by weather satellites. Fortunately, those living in the 25 houses in the area were not harmed. I expect some wildlife were not so lucky, nor were the scorched trees.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     3. On Jan. 19, about 51,000 gallons of Bakken shale oil went into the Yellowstone River near Glendive MT  when a Bridger Pipeline Company pipeline burst; this was the second major spill in the Yellowstone in four years and caused the town of Glendive to lose its water supply. The pipeline, which was supposed to be buried at least four feeb below the river bottom, “somehow” became exposed and ruptured. I mean, I ain’t an EPA engineer, but this seems absolutely stupid to me:

“None of us anticipated the drinking water problem,” said Peronard, a 30-year veteran of the EPA who estimates he’s worked to clean up about 200 spills. Though Glendive depended on the river for drinking water, its intake pipe at the treatment plant sat well below where anyone expected the oil to float. “As soon as they told me the intake was 14 feet below the water surface, I wasn’t worried about the water intake,” he said. “Turned out to be wrong about that.” (National Geographic story, “Ice Hampers Cleanup in Yellowstone’s Rare Winter Oil Spill,” link below)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.  On January 22, 100,000 gallons of toxic brine was spilled near Tioga, North Dakotacompliments of Hess Bakken Investments II LLC.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     5. And then on January 26, the West Virginia fireball that Maddow led her story with. The 12 month-old pipeline, run by Texas-based Enterprise Products Partners LP, has been carrying about 80,000 barrels per day to the Gulf Coast. From the story in “In West Virginia, state law mandates that the actual natural gas wells be a minimum of 625 feet from a residence. But when it comes to the pipelines that transport natural gas, there is no such distance regulation.” Oh goody, who would want any more annoying regulations getting in the way of our profits?
                                                                                                                                                                                                        More info: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: “Weather hampers Yellowstone cleanup” — Shows starkly how insane a thing it is to force anyone to have to be on call to do, much less actually attempt. It’s so impossible anyway.  Remember, in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster, only 14 percent of the 11,000,000+ gallons of oil was recovered. (Scientists estimate that 50 percent decomposed or biodegraded or evaporated, but that still leaves 36 percent in and around Prince Island Sound — nearly 4,000,000 gallons. Ugh.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                         This is worth re-reading: Prior to these five incidents, a recent New York Times investigation found that 18.4 million gallons of oil and chemical substances leaked into North Dakota’s air, water, and soil between 2006 and October 2014 due to Bakken Shale oil operations.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Suggestion to organizers presenting this 3 minute clip at a public forum:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I’d start it at :15 in — You’d just have to introduce it as “A midday explosion at a relatively new — one year old — pipeline in Brooke County, West Virginia, carrying Marcellus shale gas, on Monday, January 26th 2015. And you could stop at 3:20 for time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Thanks to Maura Stephens:
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Maura Stephens
Independent journalist, educator, theater artist
Contributor, Truthout
Cofounder, FrackBustersNY

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




Oil in the Yellowstone River; Stop Pilgrim Pipeline

January 20, 2015

Residents Told “Don’t Drink the Water”

An estimated 50,000 gallons of oil have spilled into the Yellowstone River in Montana from a 12″ pipeline carrying Bakken Shale crude oil. Although the leak was discovered Saturday morning January 17th at 10 AM and the flow through the pipeline was reported to be cut off by 11 AM, the spill is massive and toxic.

Residents began reporting a “diesel-y” odor and taste to their drinking water, but were not told early this morning not to drink the water. Benzene, a potent carcinogen, is among the toxic substances confirmed in residents’ drinking water.

Authorities had been led to believe that because the pipeline, part of the “Bridger” pipeline system, is fourteen feet (also reported as eight feet) below the river, drinking water could not become contaminated. But those eight to fourteen feet did not protect the river, the ecosystem, or residents of local cities. From the Billings Gazette: Crews to Clean Up Oil Spilled into Yellowstone River.

From CNN: Up to 50,000 gallons of oil spilled in Yellowstone River; residents told not to drink water.

The massive oil spill happened when the 12-inch pipeline, which crosses the Yellowstone River, ruptured Saturday about 5 miles upstream from Glendive, Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality said. The Bridger Pipeline company shut down the pipeline.

Glendive City Council member Gerald Reichert was among the residents who noticed a disturbing odor in the drinking water.

“Suddenly at our house there was a definite smell. It was a diesel smell,” Reichert told the Grand Forks Herald.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced a state of emergency for Dawson and Richland counties.

Opposing Pilgrim Pipelines: One 16″ and one 18″ pipeline 

While the investigation into the latest Bakken Shale crude oil disaster contaminating the Yellowstone River is still underway, resistance to the proposed Pilgrim oil Pipelines in New York State is increasing. So far, residents have spurred their town Boards to pass eight Resolutions Opposing Pilgrim Pipeline(s): Rosendale, New Paltz Town and Village, Rhinebeck, Rochester, Woodstock, Marbletown, and the City of Kingston, all in New York. New Jersey towns have passed 24 resolutions opposing Pilgrim Pipelines, so the combined total is 32.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      The next two Town Board meetings which are explicitly considering voting on Resolutions Opposing Pilgrim Pipelines will be in Saugerties and Plattekill, both Wednesday, January 21st at 7 pm.  Both meetings are open to the public:
                                                                                                                                                                                      Saugerties will consider the Resolution Opposing Pilgrim Pipeline at their Board meeting on January 21st. A determined crowd will make a huge difference.
                                                                                                                                                                                         Plattekill will vote on the Resolution Opposing Pilgrim Pipeline at their Board meeting on January 21st. A large, resolute showing will make all the difference.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Update posted January 22nd: Last night Plattekill passed the Resolution Opposing Pilgrim Pipeline.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pilgrim has quickly developed a reputation for bullying and for dissembling. Pilgrim reps have been showing up to demand the right to survey land, in Newburgh, Tuxedo, Rosendale, Kingston, Saugerties and other towns. They often imply or outright claim the company has eminent domain, which is false: Pilgrim hasn’t even applied for a single permit in New York for construction and operation of their pipeline. But this doesn’t stop their representatives from threatening landowners with intimidating legal action.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 New Paltz Times reports: Pilgrim Pipeline Opponents Say Landowners’ Denying Access Are Baseline of Defense.

                                                                                                                                            Lessons From the Yellowstone Spill So Far

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Oil Travels Far and Fast: The Washington Post reports in “Drinking water trucked into Montana city after oil spill“: “An oil sheen has been seen near Sidney, almost 60 river miles downstream from Glendive, said Paul Peronard, the on-scene coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
                                                                                                                                                                                      Pipeline Inspections Do Not Lead to Problems Being Corrected: The same Washington Post story, and other sources, have affirmed that the breached Poplar pipeline was inspected in 2012. Although the inspection showed problems, the problems were obviously not fixed. With 135 inspectors for 2.5 million miles of pipeline in the U.S., inspections can’t possibly be expected to prevent oil spills such as this.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Bigger Pipelines Spill More, Faster: The Poplar Pipeline, the one that spilled crude oil into the Yellowstone River, is a 12″ pipeline. The Pilgrim Pipelines would be 16″ and 18″ respectively. See How Does the Leaky Yellowstone River Pipeline Size Up with Keystone XL.
                                                                                                                                                                                       Response Time: Even with a one-hour response time, the Bridger Pipeline spilled massively into the Yellowstone River.  At the 10/21/14 Kinnelon New Jersey meeting, Pilgrim executives conceded that a pipeline leak response could be expected “within 24 hours.”  And by response, they mean simply flying somebody in to inspect a leak, not necessarily to fix or clean it up, let alone having an adequate evacuation or clean water plan for local residents.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 “This response lapse is entirely possible in more unpopulated areas of the Pilgrim route, such as the roughly 1.6 mile stretch proposed by Pilgrim to run through Troy Meadows in the Whippany/Passaic Watershed,” said Anita Austenberg Shotwell, Trustee of Wildlife Preserves, Inc.

“Needless to say, a significant amount of damage can occur within 24 hours,” Shotwell added.
U.S. Department of Transportation Inadequate to the Job: The Wall Street Journal reports, in Oil Spills into Yellowstone River After Pipeline Leak:
Late last year, Bridger Pipeline received a warning letter from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration, alleging that the company didn’t follow proper reporting procedures when it inspected the Poplar pipeline in 2012. The agency didn’t impose a fine. The company hasn’t filed a response with PHMSA and didn’t immediately respond to questions about the warning.

Problems Persist Over Decades:  This link provides a PHMSA letter to Bridger Pipeline Company LLC from February 2, 2007 referencing a 2005 inspection, and cites violation data on the Poplar Pipeline. It also references repairs from 2004 and 2005. It cites interesting problems with the pipeline.

And the Helena Independent Record from 1965 references an oil spill into the Yellowstone River from a 12″ pipeline constructed in 1955.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Spilled Oil Can Not Be Cleaned: The Hudson Riverkeeper reports on the risks of spills on and into rivers.  Also see a NOAA report on a Bakken Shale oil spill in the Lower Mississippi in February, 2014. 750-800 barrels went into the water, and only 2.5 barrels were recovered.
                                                                                                                                                                                             Newer Pipelines Spill Too: While our sources indicate that Poplar was an older pipeline, possibly built in 1955, newer pipelines are also spilling. The claim made by Pilgrim Pipelines representative Giorgio DeRosa in Plattekill, New York that because Pilgrim would be newer, it would probably not spill “for a hundred years,” is absurd.  Here are just a few examples of newer pipelines spilling:
Tesoro Logistics Pipeline (Wall Street Journal)

Mariner East Pipeline ( Sunoco Logistics pipeline, 2014 drilling mud spill)

Silvertip Pipeline (Wall Street Journal: ExxonMobil pipeline, 2013)

Tar Sands Bitumen Mixed with Bakken Shale Crude in Pilgrim Pipelines? Worst of the Worst

                                                                                                                                                                                                       As proposed, the two Pilgrim Pipelines, one 18″ and one 16″, would run side by side from Albany down through the Hudson Valley to Linden, New Jersey. The pipelines, if allowed, would carry oil south and “refined products” north: jet fuel, diesel, gasoline, other.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    For years we’ve been told the pipeline would carry Bakken Shale crude oil south. But two weeks ago, powerful Albany lobbyist Giorgio DeRosa told a packed roomful of residents in Plattekill, New York, that “only 15 – 20% of the oil would be from the Bakken Shale… the rest will be mostly from Canada.”
In other words: Tar Sands oil, called bitumen because it is so thick it’s not even accurate to call it “crude oil.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                      The industry may be thinking: hey, Bakken Shale oil is terribly flammable; if you mix it with the asphalt-like Tar Sands bitumen, it may be less so. And the tar sands bitumen must be diluted in order to flow through a pipeline, so why not dilute it with Bakken Shale crude? For them, it looks like a potentially profitable win-win. For everyone else, it’s the worst of the worst.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     That includes Philadelphia, which is likely to receive substantial amounts of the oil delivered by Pilgrim Pipelines to Linden, New Jersey. In Philadelphia, yet more toxic black smoke wafting over from the refinery just last weekend. From NBC: Operational Issues at South Philly Refinery Cause Black Smoke to Rise.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      In September 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard said both tar sands bitumen and Bakken Crude pose special risks for waterways and that no methods exist which can clean these spills. From “Standards needed for heavy oil cleanup, U.S. Coast Guard says“:

Risky heavy oils and cleanup

Popiel said there are a network of pipelines that carry two types of heavy oil in Canada and the United States.

The first is oil-sands product, which is too thick to flow through pipelines. It’s made thinner with dilutants. The diluted oil can be flammable once spilled in water.

The other is Bakken crude, a lighter oil, that is more flammable and volatile. It’s the same oil that caused the Lac-Mégantic train disaster, which killed 47 people and destroyed the downtown of the small Quebec town in 2013.

The Mayflower, Arkansas spill, the Kalamazoo River spill and, unfortunately, so many more, like the Yellowstone, all have their own lessons. The question is: when will we learn? Keep the oil in the shale. Keep the oil in the sands. Fight like hell to protect our climate. History is made by those who show up, so show up in Plattekill, in Saugerties, and at the very least, sign this petition already:  Stop the Pilgrim Pipeline.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      In honor of Yellowstone River and the people who can’t drink their water, help use get to 1000 signatures in the next 24 hours.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Peter Dolan, Cindy Kane, Margo Pellegrino, Gale Pisha, Jessica Romeo, Anita Shotwell and Joe Testa contributed research to this article.



Pack These Hearings: Stop The Constitution Pipeline!

January 12, 2015

Public hearings for a proposed fracked gas pipeline are being held one per day for the next three days in New York. Please pack these hearings in Binghamton, Oneonta, and Cobleskill! All details below.

Many of us have been resisting the proposed Constitution Pipeline, with its mammoth compressor stations, for years. Others are just joining this key two-state struggle to protect the people, waterways, land, and air along the pipeline route, as well as the communities in Pennsylvania’s shalefields. Shale gas is even worse for climate than coal. This pipeline must be stopped.

As proposed, it would run 121 miles from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY.  It would be 30 inches in diameter, and initially carry 650,000 decatherms per day (Dth/d) of fracked gas extracted from the sacrifice zones of Pennsylvania.

We have an opportunity to stop it before non-violent civil disobedience becomes necessary. History is made by those who show up:

Monday, January 12 at 6 PM
East Middle School Auditorium
167 East Frederick Street
Binghamton, NY 13904

Tuesday, January 13 at 6 PM
SUNY Oneonta, Lecture Hall IRC #3
108 Ravine Parkway
Oneonta, NY 13820

Wednesday, January 14 at 6 PM
SUNY Cobleskill, Bouck Hall Theater
State Route 7
Cobleskill, NY 12043

An administrative law judge will take public comments on the proposed “Constitution” Pipeline at three DEC hearings next week in Binghamton, Oneonta and Cobleskill. It is critical that we attend. Bring signs, bring friends and wear blue. If you’d like the opportunity to speak, be there early to add your name to the sign-up sheet.

To find out more about the hearings, go to this link. On this same page, you can download and print a flyer about the hearings to post EVERYWHERE in your town.

The DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) can stop this pipeline. DEC upholds New York’s stringent water-quality standards, which the pipeline would violate. The pipeline would tear through 277 streams, ponds and rivers, and over 10 miles of wetlands. It would clear-cut 1,000 acres of forest, increasing damage in future floods. It would cross 45 trout and trout-spawning streams 84 times, threatening the fish and their habitat. Tell the DEC: Don’t allow the destruction of our pristine water bodies or risk our individual, town, and village water supplies so that fracked gas can be shipped to foreign markets.

On January 2nd, Stop The Constitution Pipeline (STP) filed a request for a rehearing with FERC, claiming FERC violated three federal laws and the United States Constitution. New Yorker’s rights have been violated by FERC’s approval of the Constitution pipeline. (See the full document here).  Now, we have to pack these hearing rooms and inundate the DEC with substantive comments on the 401 water-quality certificate.

Thanks to Collin Fox Thomas and all our allies with Stop the Constitution Pipeline for this alert.

Inaugurate a Stop to Fracking Pennsylvania!

January 9, 2015

January 20th: Rally at Governor Wolf’s Inauguration!

When to Protest: January 20, 2015   10 AM – 2 PM

Where:  Grace Street Methodist Church
216 State Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101

Phone: 724.485.9835
Sign-up page: Food and Water Watch Event Page

Sponsor: Anti fracking groups across the COMMONwealth of PA

From Pennsylvania grassroots leader Marcellus Protest:

Thank you New York for giving us our 2nd wind!

Join hundreds of Pennsylvanians from around the state as we tell Governor Tom Wolf to make a halt on fracking his #1 priority. A fresh start for Pennsylvania means No New Fracking!

Tom Wolf will be inaugurated as the next Governor of Pennsylvania on January 20th at the Capitol in Harrisburg. Pennsylvanians Against Fracking is headed to the inauguration to make sure Wolf hears us loud and clear, and we are going to need your help to do so.

We will convene our rally at the Grace Street Methodist Church, across the street from the Capitol. From there, we will march over to the inauguration site, just outside the Capitol. With loud chants and vivid props, we will communicate directly to Governor Wolf why needs to follow the example of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and stop fracking now!

We will be posting a timeline of events as soon as we know when the inauguration will start, but please plan to arrive at the church at 10 AM!

TRANSPORTATION options: If the links below don’t work, click on them at the Food and Water Watch page.

Philadelphia and Southeast PA: Sign up to ride the bus from Southeastern PA.
Southwest PA: Sign up to ride the bus from Pittsburgh and Southwest PA.
Email to learn about carpools from Bucks County.
State College: Email Melody at for the State College carpool.
Lehigh Valley: Email Tara at to join the Lehigh Valley carpool!
Northwest PA: Email Sam at to join the carpool from the Erie County area!
Wilkes-Barre and Wyoming Valley: Email to join the carpool from Wilkes-Barre!
Northeast PA:  Email Vera at to join the carpool from Susquehanna County and NEPA!
Shrewsbury and York County: Email to join the carpool from York County!
Berks: Email to join the carpool from Berks County.

Let us know if you want to coordinate a carpool from your community by emailing

Further transportation contacts if needed:
Philadelphia area: Email Sam at to learn about carpools from Southeastern PA
Southwest PA: or

More Info: or text WOLF to 69866

Sign and share our petition!


While the Delaware River Basin is protected from fracking, the rest of Pennsylvania — roughly two-thirds of the state — is being fracked to bits. Governor Wolf has shown no sign that he comprehends the current impacts, the cumulative impacts, or the future risks. Speak up loud and clear before, during and after his inauguration to stop fracking Pennsylvania.
Why? Because public health matters, climate changes everything, and sacrifice zones are utterly unacceptable.

Can’t come? Write Letters to the Editor — Share the Science — Don’t just “preach to the converted”!

Here are two of the most useful sites summarizing the 400 scientific studies — most of which have been done in the past 2 years –which weigh in on fracking and public health:
A Public Health Review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas Development and

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