Pacific Northwest refineries have been getting their crude oil for years from tankers and pipelines. Last September, trains began shipping crude oil into the region by rail. EarthFix reporter Courtney Flatt explains what that means for emergency crews.
Washington's emergency responders are learning how to deal with the Northwest’s latest method of transporting crude oil. Crews from the state Ecology Department spent the afternoon on the banks of the Columbia River, decked out in hazmat suits and respirators. They were practicing how to clean up crude oil spilled from a train.
Curt Hart is with the Department of Ecology. He says last year 50 trains carrying crude oil came into the Northwest from North Dakota and Montana. This year officials expect 150 oil trains.
Hart: “With the number of trains that are coming to our state, the exponential rise in the number of trains carrying crude oil, that all does increase the risk.”
Responders worry if a crude oil train derails, the spill could reach waterways. Crude oil contains carcinogens and toxic chemicals.
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