Are you or your loved ones in the Oil Train Blast Zone?

Yes, oil-by-rail, the gift that keeps on giving.

Thanks to your efforts to curtail crude- and tar-oil pipelines, the greedy carbon industry is increasingly resorting to train travel to move toxic crude around the country. Risky? You bet.

Let’s start with this, from the valuable Steve Horn at DeSmogBlog — but don’t forget to read on. Are you in the path of these spill-ready trains? There’s a handy tool just below.

Industry Data Show Oil-By-Rail in North America at Record Levels

On July 3, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) released June 2014 data showing oil-by-rail and petroleum products at-large are moving at record levels throughout North America.

The release of the data comes on the heels of the ongoing oil-by-rail nationwide week of action launched by environmental groups.

For the 26th week of 2014 (the half year point) in the U.S., 18.5% more tank cars were on the tracks carrying petroleum and/or petroleum products than last year, a total of 15,894 cars.

Examined on a year-to-date basis, 7.0% more of those same tank cars were on the tracks in the U.S. this year than last, totaling 380,961 cars to date.

15,000 tank cars per week is a lot of crude rolling around the country. And it’s almost the whole country we’re talking about. Is there one near you? Let’s see.

A handy tool — are you in a blast- and spill-zone?

To see the crude-by-rail map for the whole country (and parts of Canada), click here and scroll down. You can also use that page as a tool to see how spill-ready your neighborhood is. For example, I entered “Minneapolis, MN” in the search box and this is what I found.

Crude oil by rail

Blast and spill zone for downtown Minneapolis. Red is the evacuation zone. Yellow the fire-impact zone.

If I lived in downtown Minneapolis, I’m not far, am I. And in the case of fire and toxic fumes, a lot depends on where the wind is blowing that day — and how asthmatic I am.

You can enter a street address as well, or just a zip code. Me, I’m six block away from a close encounter, so close I can see it from my window. Yikes; didn’t know that. How close are you to too many emissions at once?

Oil train traffic has increased by more than 4,000 percent in the past five years

Here’s another look at the extent of the problem, from Forest Ethics, the group that put together the search tool. Their press release reads in part (my emphasis):

25 Million Live in Oil Train Blast Zone: New Online Mapping Tool Shows Threat to Homes, Schools, and Cities

Media Contact: Eddie Scher, ForestEthics communications director, (415) 815-7027, [email protected]

Today the citizens group ForestEthics launched www.Blast-Zone.org, a website that allows users to see the routes of trains carrying millions of gallons of crude oil and assess the threat of accidents to specific locations. The group estimates that more than 25 million Americans live in the potential oil train blast zone.

For the first time ForestEthics has brought Google mapping capabilities together with railroad industry data on oil train routes across the US and Canada. The tool uses US Department of Transportation guidance for emergency response, identifying the one mile evacuation zone in the case of an oil train fire or a half mile in the case of a spill. The group used census data to estimate the number of Americans living in the one mile blast zone, but the map also shows schools, sports stadiums, town halls, and landmarks across the country within the danger zone.

Oil train traffic has increased by more than 4,000 percent in the past five years, from 9,500 tank cars in 2008 to more than 400,000 in 2013, mostly Bakken crude from North Dakota and tar sands from Alberta, Canada. Derailments, spills, and fires are also on the rise. …

“These oil trains are an unacceptable threat, especially because we don’t even need this extreme oil,” says Paglia. “Oil use in the US and Canada is down, climate risks are up, and when you put these things together the only sane thing to do is ban these exploding trains.”

ForestEthics is asking that regulators ban dangerous DOT-111 tanker cars, alert communities to the presence of oil trains, prepare and equip emergency responders, and reroute trains around cities and away from water supplies. The group is also asking that new rail safety rules, under development by the Obama Administration, give citizens the power to say no to oil trains.

Are you in a blast or spill zone? Click and find out. And if you want something to do about it, write Obama’s Dept. of Transportation, who approved this risky transport. As the press release says:

ForestEthics is asking that regulators ban dangerous DOT-111 tanker cars, alert communities to the presence of oil trains, prepare and equip emergency responders, and reroute trains around cities and away from water supplies. The group is also asking that new rail safety rules, under development by the Obama Administration, give citizens the power to say no to oil trains.

You can also ask, or join Forrest Ethics in asking. The Obama administration may be oil-soaked, but you don’t have to be. Petition here.

GP

Twitter: @Gaius_Publius
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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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