Crude Oil

Oil Trains
4:57 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

3,000 Rail Crossings In Washington Go Un-Inspected

A state study on oil transport through Washington finds that the amount of crude oil shipped from North Dakota could triple in the next five years.
Credit U.S. Department of Transportation / Northwest News Network

Washington’s rail safety regulator says there are about 3,000 rail crossings in the state that inspectors have never looked at. That's because they're on private land. And experts say these could be problem areas as more trains carry crude oil through the state. They plan to ask the legislature for more authority.

A state study on oil transport through Washington finds that the amount of crude oil shipped from North Dakota could triple in the next five years. In two decades, more than 16 trains carrying oil could cross the state every day.

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Oil Train Safety
5:48 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Inslee Calls for Safer, Slower Oil Trains

Credit Michael Berry / Flickr

Gov. Jay Inslee says more needs to be done to prevent and respond to oil spills, as more trains move volatile shipments of crude oil through Washington state.

The governor received initial findings from a state study today , looking into the safety and environmental risks of oil transport.

Inslee called the report "sobering".

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Crude Oil Facilities
11:54 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Vancouver Considers Emergency Moratorium On Crude Oil Facilities

The Vancouver City Council is holding a special meeting Thursday to consider an emergency moratorium on applications for new or expanded crude oil facilities.

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Railway Whistleblowers
7:43 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Workers Question Safety Culture Of Railroad Hauling Volatile Crude Oil

BNSF Railway, the second-largest freight network in the U.S., is at the center of the boom in crude by rail. The railroad touts its commitment to safety. Current and former workers question the safety culture on the ground.
Credit Michael Werner / EarthFix

Crude oil shipments by rail increased by more than 80 percent, nationally, last year.

Most of it is coming from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That crude is more flammable than other types of oil, and has been shown to catch fire and explode when trains derail.

More than 15 trains of Bakken oil move through some parts of the Northwest each week, en route to refineries and terminals in Washington and Oregon.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway transports the majority of that oil.

The company regularly touts its commitment to safety.

But an EarthFix investigation reveals some troubling patterns in the way BNSF Railway deals with whistleblowers – particularly those who voice concerns about safety.

Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix. EarthFix’s Tony Schick contributed to the reporting for this story.

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Oil Train Regulation
4:58 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

BNSF Won’t Stop Release Of Oil Train Info By Seeking Injunction

Today is the deadline for railroads to try to stop Washington state from sharing oil train delivery information with the public.
Credit Raymond D. Woods Jr. / Flickr

The federal Department of Transportation has required railroads to notify states when they're shipping more than 1 million gallons of North Dakota crude oil by rail.

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Oil Train Regulation
4:45 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Despite Confidentiality Concerns, BNSF Will Report Oil Shipments To States

A BNSF locomotive pulling a shipment of crude oil.
Credit Raymond D. Woods Jr. / Flickr

BNSF Railway said it will comply with a Saturday federal deadline to provide states with information about the frequency and routes of oil trains from North Dakota and Montana.

The railroad made that announcement Friday even though Washington, Oregon and Idaho have balked at signing confidentiality agreements about the crude oil shipments.

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Oil Trains
6:49 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Crude Oil Train Oversight Divides Washington Legislature

File photo of a BNSF train from March 16, 2013.
Raymond D. Woods Jr. Flickr

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 9:50 pm

In Olympia, state lawmakers are going down divergent tracks in how to respond to the rapid increase of crude oil trains crossing the region.

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NW Oil Spill Response
6:14 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Inland NW Needs More Spill Response Capacity For Oil Trains

Environmental regulators heard from BNSF Railway that mile-long crude oil trains from North Dakota could cross the Northwest around five times a day in coming years.
Credit Russ Allison Loar

The rapid rise in crude oil shipping by rail means Northwest states need to bulk up their oil spill response capacity. That's according to members of a task force of Pacific states and British Columbia which met in Seattle Wednesday.

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Crude Oil Terminal
5:51 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Planned Crude-by-Rail Terminal In Tacoma Scrapped

Walter Siegmund Wikimedia

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 5:00 pm

A fuel terminal developer has unexpectedly scrapped a project at the Port of Tacoma that was intended to receive crude oil by rail.

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Cleaning Oil from Trains
9:04 am
Thu May 9, 2013

How To Clean Up A Crude Oil Spill From Trains

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.

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