Loading…
Saturday, December 27, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
Published: Tuesday, 1/28/2014

EDITORIAL

Disaster by rail

Train industry is making itself into train wreck

The expression Americans routinely use to describe something in their lives that has gone horribly wrong is “train wreck.” It’s only necessary to follow the news to understand why: There has been no shortage lately of trains loaded with crude oil wrecking, with bad results for people and the environment.

Last week, seven cars in a 101-car freight train derailed in Philadelphia. Six of the derailed cars carried crude oil. One of them, and a boxcar, were left leaning over a bridge.

That was a close call, but other communities have not avoided disaster. Forty-seven people died in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, last July when a runaway oil train exploded and devastated the town.

Last month, an oil train collided with a derailed car from another train in North Dakota, igniting a fireball and spilling 400,000 gallons of crude oil. Such accidents cannot be ignored.

Last week, working with Canadian authorities, the National Transportation Safety Board took proper note by issuing recommendations for tougher standards for trains that carry crude oil. They include expanded route planning to avoid transporting hazardous materials through populated or sensitive areas, and an audit program to ensure that rail companies that carry petroleum are prepared to handle worst-case discharges. The NTSB has previously recommended strengthening tank cars.

As an independent agency, the NTSB needs agencies within the U.S. Department of Transportation to turn these recommendations into rules. Prompt action is needed, and pressure from Congress would help.

Large shipments of crude oil by rail have increased 400 percent, by one estimate, since 2005. The next disaster could be just around the bend.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.