Making Crude Oil by Rail Safer and TransparentAugust 22, 2015
You may have driven by a long train full of black tanker cars and wondered what it was carrying and where it was going. More than likely it is full of crude oil from the Bakken fields in Canada or the western part of the US. These are the same tankers that have been in the news recently because of derailments and explosions.
We don’t want history to repeat itself.
The spike in crude oil shipments have has led to the loss of 47 lives in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in July 2013, along with countless derailments in Virginia, West Virginia, Illinois, and more. Oil trains pass through the densely populated environmental justice communites of Newark, Linden, and Elizabeth, New Jersey on a daily basis and we refuse to let a disaster happen in our communities.
Our communities deserve the highest level of safety and the right to know when hazardous materials are being transported through their neighborhoods.
What NY/NJ Baykeeper Is Doing:
NY/NJ Baykeeper is working on educating the public and elected officials on the risk of crude oil by rail and what we can do to mitigate the risks. We’ve met with Senator Booker and Senator Menendez’s staff, as well as various NJ Congressman in order to build support for safer oil by rail transport to protect our waterways and environmental justice communities. Within a coalition of regional organizations, NY/NJ Baykeeper demands more transparency, increased public safety standards and better emergency response plans for these shipments.
What YOU Can Do:
Write a letter to your elected officials demanding the following safety demands:
- The U.S. Secretary of Transportation must, based on the hazard posed by crude oil-by-rail, issue an Emergency Order applicable to all crude and ethanol transport by rail that immediately:
- Institutes a speed limit, taking into account rail conditions, environmental and public health risks, and community vulnerabilities, that protects the public.
- Limits the length of these trains in order to limit the devastation which could result from the next rail disaster.
- Prohibits the use of the 23,000 tank cars identified by the NTSB and PHMSA as being the most vulnerable and least resilient tank cars on the rails. Tank cars including CPC-1232s and DOT-111s – should not be permitted for use in hauling any other hazardous liquids
- Requires that railroads immediately develop comprehensive spill response plans for each county through which these trains travel. Such plans are required for vessels carrying crude oil, but not for trains – an unacceptable loophole that needs to be closed.
- The State of New Jersey should act on its emergency authority to halt permits granted to oil transportation, refinery, and loading facilities, which facilitate this ongoing endangerment. The Department of Environmental Protection must then require an environmental impact statement prior to any possible reactivation of those permits.
- More transparency and public engagement from the State of New Jersey on routes, volume and content of rail tankers
- Improved financial assurance requirements for the rail companies, including increased requirements for higher coverage for incidents
- Assessments by the State of New Jersey on:
- Health impacts from mobile and stationary air emissions from increased crude oil and tar sands rail transport on environmental justice communities
- Which drinking water supplies are vulnerable to a spill
- Determine which schools are vulnerable to a spill with a needs assessment of re-zoning
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