Oil Trains

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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Oil Spill Risk
8:53 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Conservation Groups Concerned Oil Spill Would Harm Wildlife

An oil train moves through Skagit County in Western Washington, headed to refineries in the Northwestern part of the state.
Credit Katie Campbell / EarthFix

More oil trains traveling along the Columbia River and Puget Sound mean an increased risk for oil spills. Conservation groups worry methods to clean up those spills could harm sensitive wildlife.

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Oregon Transportation Commission
6:26 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Oregon Approves Subsidy For Oil Transport, Not Coal

The Oregon Transportation Commission Friday voted to deny funding for controversial coal exports but approved subsidies that will allow more oil trains to travel along the Columbia River.
Credit McD22 / Flickr

The Oregon Transportation Commission voted Friday to deny funding for controversial coal exports but approved subsidies that will allow more oil trains to travel along the Columbia River.

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Oil Train Safety
6:37 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Oregon Report Identifies Gaps In Oil Train Safety

Reports show three oil trains a week pass through Oregon on the way to the Global Pacific oil terminal near Clatskanie, and additional oil trains pass through central and southern Oregon on their way to California once a week.
Credit Tony Schick / EarthFix

Several mile-long oil trains cross through the state of Oregon every week carrying volatile oil from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields. A new report released today Friday identifies gaps in Oregon's ability to handle the safety risks. For EarthFix, Cassandra Profita reports.

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Oil Train Regulation
6:14 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

New Safety Rules Proposed To Curb Oil Train Fires

he U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a comprehensive set of rules in response to fiery crashes involving trains carrying crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota.
Credit Paul Sullivan / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a comprehensive set of rules Wednesday in response to fiery crashes involving trains carrying crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota.

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Oil Trains
5:35 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Poll: Most Northwest Residents Support Oil Trains But Don't Know Much About The Issue

Credit Hugh Llewelyn / Flickr

A new poll shows the majority of Northwest residents support oil transportation by rail and don't think the safety and environmental risks are too high.

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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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