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Feds Issue Emergency Order On Crude Oil Trains

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the what-about-a-line-of-pipes dept.

Earth 211

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Joan Lowy writes for AP that the Department of Transportation has issued an emergency order requiring that railroads inform state emergency management officials about the movement of large shipments of crude oil through their states and urged shippers not to use older model tanks cars that are easily ruptured in accidents, even at slow speeds. The emergency order follows a warning two weeks ago from outgoing National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman that the department risks a 'higher body count' as the result of fiery oil train accidents if it waits for new safety regulations to become final. There have been nine oil train derailments in the U.S. and Canada since March of last year, many of them resulting in intense fires and sometimes the evacuation of nearby residents, according to the NTSB. The latest was last week, when a CSX train carrying Bakken crude derailed in downtown Lynchburg, Va., sending three tank cars into the James River and shooting flames and black smoke into the air. Concern about the safe transport of crude oil was heightened after a runaway oil train derailed and then exploded last July in the small town of Lac-Megantic in Canada, just across the border from Maine. More than 60 tank cars spilled more than 1.3 million gallons of oil. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings destroyed in the resulting inferno. Hersman says that over her 10 years on the board she has 'seen a lot of difficulty when it comes to safely rules being implemented if we don't have a high enough body count. That is a tombstone mentality. We know the steps that will prevent or mitigate these accidents. What is missing is the will to require people to do so.'"

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Environmentalists eat your heart out. (5, Insightful)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#46950669)

You know, a PIPELINE would be a lot safer way of transporting crude oil around the country... Stopping the construction of pipelines results in more of these rail car accidents you know.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (5, Informative)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#46950699)

Yeah, we've obviously never had major pipeline spills.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (4, Insightful)

sinij (911942) | about 4 months ago | (#46950787)

I assume you are capable understanding that there is no such thing as perfectly secure system or completely bug free software? If so, then why does your brain takes a vacation when we start talking about petroleum?

Our civilization is built on oil-derived products, we do not have a choice of not shipping it. If we stop shipping oil significant portion of human population will starve and/or freeze and die.

Given our available shipping choices, pipelines are by far safest and energy efficient way to do it.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#46950897)

Our civilization is built on oil-derived products, we do not have a choice of not shipping it.

In the short term. We should construct incentive networks that slowly migrate off fossil fuels while the costs are reasonable. We are not doing that, and it's going to be hazardous to our entire system.

Building pipelines, while occasionally useful and necessary, should be done with due attention for the long term economic incentives it creates.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (0)

sinij (911942) | about 4 months ago | (#46950973)

I fully expect our civilization to collapse when we run out of oil. Any "migration off fossil fuels" scenario at present technological level means drastically reduced ability to support population. This will all but inevitably lead to nukes flying, making problem that much worse. Save black-swan technological breakthrough Western Civilization has "best before" date of 2070-2120.

Fortunately for you and me, "short term" should last our lifetimes.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (4, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#46951059)

There is enough material on the planet, and enough insolation on the planet to provide well over 100% of our energy needs by means of solar. That's a bit of a pipe dream, so reasonable migration steps with nuclear and slowly diminishing fossil fuel dependency is entirely doable. And it would cost us a fraction of our GDP.

Of all major industries, energy is the field with the lowest ratio of research funding to revenue(most are about 5%, medicine is about 15%, energy is like 1-2%). It's entirely clear we're just not trying much.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1, Insightful)

sinij (911942) | about 4 months ago | (#46951175)

You are correct in context that we have cheap oil energy available to produce these solar panels. While in theory Sun output exceeds our energy needs in any case short of Dyson Sphere scenario, in practice our present capability to effectively capture this energy is not that great, especially if you remove oil from the equation.

For the record, I am pro-nuclear/alternative/geothermal. Still, meaningfully diminishing fossil fuel dependency is not achievable at our present technological levels when faced with continuous population growth.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (2)

jythie (914043) | about 4 months ago | (#46951703)

Unlikely. While it makes for good science fiction, all we will likely see is a gradual increase in cost resulting in decrease of luxury, and as that happens other materials will become more economically viable. All that will really change is which industries the money flows into, the actual impact on the average person will be imperceptible.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (2)

mlookaba (2802163) | about 4 months ago | (#46951021)

As long as we are willing to include nuclear in that equation, than I agree.

Without a cheap storage mechanism, solar/wind/etc. cannot satisfy the baseline demand of the power grid. Yes, there are ways to do that. They also impact the environment and come with a steep cost.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (-1, Troll)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 4 months ago | (#46951081)

A cheap storage system?

You mean like pumping water up an incline to store energy, as we've done for THOUSANDS of years?

(stares at clueless n00b)

Like that?

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (4, Insightful)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#46951115)

Not the most efficient method, and historically one of the worst environmentally and the most dangerous to large populations when there is a failure. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of hydro power, but it's not without severe disadvantages.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 4 months ago | (#46951517)

There's also compressed air storage (CPES) which is more efficient, but it's a technical solution that requires a higher infrastructure.

Most energy use in the US is for heating and cooling buildings. Converting existing coal plants to cogeneration could address most of that, by doubling efficiency, as most First World nations do.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 4 months ago | (#46951207)

Pumped storage reservoirs aren't sitting available and unused. Even reservoirs specifically built for pumped storage have been converted to regular dual use lakes due to public pressure.

They're looking at moving gravel up and down hills on electric dump vehicles for similar results. Prototype 'pumped storage' rail lines exist. Then all you need is a hill with a reasonable grade.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about 4 months ago | (#46951349)

An even better way to do it, is to find a place where it naturally flows downhill. That way you get a net gain in energy.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#46951093)

Nuclear is absolutely fantastic, because when done correctly, you create your next generation of fuel using this generation. Potentially thousands of years of energy supply.

Solar and wind are superior outside of financial constraints, because they don't have any catastrophic failures possible from poor maintenance.

Properly disincentivize fossil fuels gradually over the course of a couple decades, through taxes, tariffs, and regulations, and let the slack get picked up in whatever way is most market friendly.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

ArmoredDragon (3450605) | about 4 months ago | (#46951513)

In the short term. We should construct incentive networks that slowly migrate off fossil fuels while the costs are reasonable. We are not doing that, and it's going to be hazardous to our entire system.

Actually we very much are doing that, we've been doing it for a long time. If you look at the US consumption of oil over the last four decades, it has changed very little:

http://www.indexmundi.com/ener... [indexmundi.com]

So why do I say we are doing the opposite of what you're saying we're doing? Simple, look at the population growth over that same period; it grows exponentially while the oil consumption remains relatively flat. Furthermore, as an overall consumption of oil based goods and services, we've been dropping them heavily:

http://politicalcalculations.b... [blogspot.com]

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46950929)

Our civilization is built on oil-derived products, we do not have a choice of not shipping it. If we stop shipping oil significant portion of human population will starve and/or freeze and die.

Scaremongering, huh, to force us into a false panic so we'll make the choice you want.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 months ago | (#46950965)

And what other choice is there? Even if AGW isn't happening (and all but the smallest fraction of experts in fields related to climatology say it is), sooner or later the economics of using a non-renewable energy source are going to kick us in the balls.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (3, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#46951117)

It already kind of kicked the commuter society in the balls through gas prices. "Peak oil" happened, and we all just kinda grinned and bore it through extremely rapid commodity inflation.

We didn't listen, when it would have been cheap to do so, so now it's a little more expensive to address(and we're still not doing anything about it).

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (3, Insightful)

sinij (911942) | about 4 months ago | (#46951043)

Most of your food is shipped from far away places and this is economically feasible only due to cheap energy derived from oil. Most of your food is grown with use of fertilizers produced from oil, without fertilizers yields will be greatly reduced. Reduced yields + less fertile climate = a lot less food.

Sure, we can learn to live in sustainable-energy-using urban centers and bike to work, but we can't learn to not eat. This is why oil is so crucial for our civilization.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (2)

WillAdams (45638) | about 4 months ago | (#46951571)

Contemporary industrial farming practices consume (via combustion or conversion into fertilizer) 10 calories of petro-chemical energy for every 1 calorie of food energy produced.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

jythie (914043) | about 4 months ago | (#46951755)

In industrialized nations at least, our food supply is so wasteful that we are a long, long way from having to worry about 'a lot less food'. At worst what we will see is a decrease in luxury items like cheap beef which, while culturally important, can easily be scaled back in order to allow for more human consumable food.

I like your argument, sir. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951195)

If so, then why does your brain takes a vacation when we start talking about petroleum?

Why do you have to be abusive in making your point?

And shame on the mods for not modding parent as Flamebait.

Re:I like your argument, sir. (0)

sinij (911942) | about 4 months ago | (#46951255)

If "brain takes a vacation" insults your sensibilities, I am afraid I cannot advise you to partake in the Internet, kind sir.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 4 months ago | (#46951275)

LMOL yeah ok. RTFA about why they are using rail ways for transporting crude oil then comment. You might understand why your statement is wrong.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (5, Insightful)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#46950913)

You're right, pipelines built in the 1930s do fail from time to time. Mainly because it's so hard to build new ones that pipeline companies try to run old pipelines at as high pressure as they can get away with. You should see the difference in how pipelines used to be constructed vs how they are built now. A new pipeline is an amazing feat of engineering. Old pipelines were just whatever pipe they could find laid in the ground.

To make an obligatory Slashdot car analogy: I am suggesting we make new planes so people will be able to travel safer than driving a car. You come back with "yeah, we've obviously never had major plane crashes".

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (3)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#46950915)

Yeah, we've obviously never had major pipeline spills.

Major pipeline spills are less common and don't kill dozens of people.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951091)

Yeah, we've obviously never had major pipeline spills.

Major pipeline spills are less common and don't kill dozens of people.

When they do happen, however, they do wreak major havoc on the environment. You know, where wildlife lives and where our food comes from.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951009)

It would be good to compare the safety record of pipelines per gallon shipped versus trains... Might be hard to dredge up those statistics. In the meantime I think that reason would indicate that a static pipeline should be safer than a moving train. But there should be some math on this which I am sure the pipeline industry will be willing to provide...

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (3, Informative)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#46951053)

http://www.manhattan-institute... [manhattan-institute.org]

Plenty of studies done... According to this one rail is about 4x more likely to have an incident per weight-mile. Which is still ahead of the 40x more likely when transported by road!

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#46951099)

The vast majority of oil is shipped by pipeline or boat. The amount shipped by rail and truck is very small. It's only been used recently because of environmental opposition to pipelines. We're talking a few percent of what's shipped by pipeline or boat.

Yet train derailments and truck crashes spill more oil than pipelines. The spills are smaller, a few hundred barrels, so they don't make a lot of news. When pipelines or boats spill, its usually either a major national news event because of the volume, or its a slow leak that goes unnoticed for years and adds up over time. With trains/trucks the spills can often be worse because they are often traveling through heavily populated areas and interstates that pass through wild-life preserves. Pipelines and boats aren't allowed near those areas other than their end-points. So the pipeline spills are often in areas where it's not as damaging. Train/truck spills may be of smaller amounts but could be in very bad locations (i.e. next to your kids daycare)

Further reading:
https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mi... [fas.org]

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 4 months ago | (#46951199)

But have we have had as much oil spilled per unit oil moved by pipelines? If you move 100gal and spill 1gal, versus moving 1000gal and spill 1gal, the second option is better.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#46951237)

Yay, someone actually responded reasonably. Thanks.

  I'd say that you're right, except that trains as infrastructure continue to serve a purpose when you're not shipping oil anymore, whereas pipelines do not. Thus they can form a perverse incentive.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (4, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 4 months ago | (#46951379)

Pipelines can ship solids, liquids, and gasses, Some pipelines are fully capable of transporting crude oil, then immediately transporting refined gasoline, then natural gas, then transporting coal, without huge maintenance cycles between. A client need only purchase transport from the shipper and their load will go through the pipeline.

It surprised me that you could switch between mediums without decommissioning, fully cleaning, and then recommissioning the pipeline at great expense. Quite the opposite, pipelines do allow for low-cost changeover of medium in normal operation. You cannot pipeline water or other food-grade materials in this way.

Let's compare the death toll. It's no contest. (1)

techvet (918701) | about 4 months ago | (#46951389)

As noted elsewhere in this discussion, we need to have good pipeline regs, but let's not compare oil spills in nature to rail car accidents in which lots of oil gets spilled anyway AND which directly lead to the deaths of dozens of people.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (3, Funny)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 months ago | (#46950711)

That's an interesting spin on the recent spate of oil disasters.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1, Troll)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 4 months ago | (#46950779)

Well, yes... but trains are romantic. Pipelines are big and ugly tubes running over the land, requiring destroying thousands of acres of forests, while train tracks just require a few rails. Pipelines require maintaining hundreds of miles of pipe (at which, of course, we know technology will fail), while train cars are nice, small, human-manageable pieces that can be inspected with just a quick visual check. Pipelines are managed by people in suits in a remote office in a big city somewhere. Trains are run by engineers who wave at the kids as they go by.

At least, that's how the narrative goes...

Disclaimer: I'm not trolling. Every one of those are claims I've heard from my anti-pipeline friends, who don't realize how wrong they are.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#46950911)

Let me know when the people whose ares have a pipeline get a piece of the action.
Rails are already built.
And a rail accidents is trivial spill next to a pipeline accident.

But hey, lets take all the risk and damage so some company can make more money, and put the risk on the people.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (4, Interesting)

boristdog (133725) | about 4 months ago | (#46950827)

Yes, I've been saying this for a while. Pipelines are way safer but we also need stricter pipeline regulations.

I have three oil pipelines that go through my property. While they are pretty solid, the pipeline companies refuse to do any maintenance (such as when one becomes uncovered in a creek bed where it's supposed to be at least 3 feet underground) until you call the news crews out.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (4, Informative)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#46950963)

I just hope you call before you dig... The biggest single cause of pipeline releases is 3rd party excavation damage:
http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/co... [dot.gov]

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951419)

No we don't. The Yellowstone river spill spilled less oil than was actually under the river. What we need is to do is get the fucking "environmentalists" out of the way so old pipelines can be rebuilt and replaced with modern, safer pipelines. The risk will DROP with new pipeline construction.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (0)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 4 months ago | (#46950893)

Shhhhh... your observation does not support this administration's agenda.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46950945)

Except pipelines aren't as safe, since you have to protect hundreds of miles of pipe compared to a train. And even then the pipe can leak or burst or any number of things, and have a severe environmental impact that dwarfs that of a train derailment.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#46951073)

http://www.manhattan-institute... [manhattan-institute.org]

Here's a hint, the vast majority of pipelines are protected for hundreds of miles. They are buried underground! Trains travel above the ground where they are subject to weather, traffic, etc. Also, pipeline releases are easier to recover and clean up than rail accidents. The data doesn't lie.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

hondo77 (324058) | about 4 months ago | (#46951617)

The data doesn't lie.

That paper is not about facts but statistics [bizjournals.com] (as in "lies, damned lies, and statistics" [wikipedia.org] ). Not the same thing.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951027)

A pipeline to transport oil from Canada will do exactly bubkis for oil needed to be transported from the Bakken oil fields. But don't let reality get in the way of your righteous rant against those damn environmentalists trying to protect their homes.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#46951153)

Really? http://www.enbridge.com/Bakken... [enbridge.com] Maybe you need a reality reset.

Re: Environmentalists eat your heart out. (2)

Scowler (667000) | about 4 months ago | (#46951193)

Pipelines only reduce the need for rail transport, not eliminate it altogether. Only high production areas like the Alberta sands and the Bakken will get pipelines... the smaller fracking sites dotting the country will still need rail. Your post unnecessarily detracts from the main issue, about the need for stronger regulations.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

thatbloke83 (1529851) | about 4 months ago | (#46951285)

Yea but not in *MY* back yard!

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951287)

But pipelines leak massive amounts of oil. There a reason our President opposes the horrific new pipeline that Bush Jr spent years trying to shove down our throats. One of his first acts after being appointed President by the SCOTUS was to start pushing for this environmental disaster that would leak oil over hundreds of miles of this country.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (2, Informative)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 4 months ago | (#46951359)

You know, a PIPELINE would be a lot safer way of transporting crude oil around the country... Stopping the construction of pipelines results in more of these rail car accidents you know.

Right. The problem is that President 1%'s buddy Warren Buffett owns a railroad, not a pipeline.

Do the math.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (1)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 4 months ago | (#46951405)

There is a good reason that the US Navy in Norfolk, VA uses barges and trucks to deliver fuel to the piers instead of their multi million dollar pipeline system. Those pipelines leak and even when they are maintained well, a lot of fuel may be spilled before anyone realizes that a problem exists.

At least an above ground oil spill is containable and the damage can be seen immediately.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (4, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 4 months ago | (#46951593)

Just so we're all clear about what is bullshit and what is actually the concern: some environmentalists such as myself don't care about safety of moving the stuff around. If you manage to make a new carbon sink that can eat up all the carbon being pumped out by the gas, you could deliver it across the country by strapping tanks to the back of baby seals and throwing them via catapult towards crowded cities for all I care. But you won't, and if gas prices stay artificially low, we won't stop driving for any trip longer than a half a block, which is why I'd prefer to stop the pipeline AND see the rails stopped.

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (0)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#46951827)

Right, so gas prices are artificially low because you don't have to carry buckets of crude to your house and refine it yourself? Carbon dioxide is what is going to kill us all, not fire and oil spills? That's a very well reasoned argument you have there...

Re:Environmentalists eat your heart out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951661)

If you knew anything about pipelines, you'd know they are prone to leaking and causing considerable environmental damage.

I know you are a conservative, but at some point in your life you need to start using your brain and actually think things out.

This is why we need the government regulation (2, Insightful)

sinij (911942) | about 4 months ago | (#46950721)

Shipping crude oil by railroads is not the case where industry was willing to engage in meaningful self-regulation. Railroads showed complete unwillingness to properly classify cargo (some forms of crude are outright explosive) or use proper equipment (modern tanker cars that resist spills/ruptures during derailment) or follow proper safety measures (multiple operators and not shipping through high-density urban areas). Instead, they are playing shell game where liability outsourced to low-asset holding company that rents everything from the mother company.

Re:This is why we need the government regulation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46950803)

I don't think the word "explosive" means what you think it means. An explosive is a substance that does not require any external fuel or accelerant to react completely or nearly completely to its lowest energy state once initiated.

Crude oil does not explode in any of the common forms shipped by rail. It requires an external source of oxygen to react, and even then it does not react directly to its lowest energy state, as much is not combusted and given off as fine particulate carbon matter.

Re:This is why we need the government regulation (1)

sinij (911942) | about 4 months ago | (#46950889)

>>>Crude oil does not explode in any of the common forms shipped by rail

This is incorrect.

>>>It requires an external source of oxygen to react

Atmosphere is a readily available and nearly unlimited source of oxygen.

Re:This is why we need the government regulation (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 4 months ago | (#46950829)

What about brakes?

The whole Lac Megantic thing happened because the train lost pressure to its brakes.

But this is a failure mode that should have been fixed since the Armagh rail disaster in 1889! Train brakes are supposed to need pressure to keep them off.

Re:This is why we need the government regulation (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 4 months ago | (#46950909)

I thought the same thing...

Also an interesting fact about the Lac Megantic disaster: some people near the source of the explosion are assumed to have been vaporized. Nobody knows for certain, but that's the best guess as to what happened to these people who completely disappeared.

Re:This is why we need the government regulation (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#46951119)

The alternate guess being they where transported into another dimension. So yeah, vaporization is probably what happened:)

unless it was Jean-Claude Van Damme, in that case he was blown into an alternate dimension where he must to splits and then defeat himself.

Time for some VANDAMMAGE!

Sorry, I'm hungry and tired.

Re:This is why we need the government regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951625)

Yup, and you know what? Nobody will ever be responsible for this and nobody will go to jail, it's like this in Québec, noone is ever responsible for anything bad that happen especially if you are 1) a company 2) rich 3) or an elected person.

Re:This is why we need the government regulation (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 4 months ago | (#46951801)

It's also like this in pretty much the whole rest of the world :-(

Re:This is why we need the government regulation (5, Funny)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 4 months ago | (#46950851)

And, in the oxymoron stakes:

meaningful self-regulation

is a clear winner.

Re:This is why we need the government regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46950961)

This is why we need the government regulation

Government regulation is why we're using dangerous oil trains instead of relatively safe oil pipelines.

Make them pay the FULL cost (1)

Bruce66423 (1678196) | about 4 months ago | (#46950997)

Ensure that the insurance charges for moving crude oil fully covers the entire cost of the disruption; all deaths evaluated at $10m, $1m for significant injury etc. This will force the rail companies to use only safe methods compared with the alternatives because the use of old wagons will be stupidly expensive in insurance fees.

Re:Make them pay the FULL cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951135)

Get real. These are oil companies. Everybody knows oil companies never pay for the disasters they cause. Fines are for peons.

Set 'em up, knock 'em down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46950747)

There will be another accident in the next couple of weeks, a false flag of course, after which a total ban on moving crude oil by vehicle will be enacted.

Re:Set 'em up, knock 'em down (2)

kenaaker (774785) | about 4 months ago | (#46951225)

Why don't you take your tin-foil hat brigade somewhere else. Maybe Syria, Somalia, you know someplace that has no effective government.

Could we at least number the anonymous cowards, I'd like to know if the crap is coming from one blabbermouth or if there's a team of sock puppets at work.

It would make it easier to get a better signal to noise ratio.

U.S. Railways (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46950751)

Made cicra 1910s. Upgraded circa 1940s. In dire disrepair by 2014. When it's not the track curvature, then it's negligent maintenance of undercarriage. But I will always bet my money on poorly mainained rail track trail scenario.

Re:U.S. Railways (2)

jbeaupre (752124) | about 4 months ago | (#46951317)

"Amtrak's passenger services are sparse compared with Europe's. But America's freight railways are one of the unsung transport successes of the past 30 years. They are universally recognised in the industry as the best in the world."

http://www.economist.com/node/... [economist.com]

I have an idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46950797)

If only there was some other method of transporting lots of of oil.
A tube, or pipeline perhaps.
Sounds like a billion dollar idea. Has somebody thought of this already???

Re:I have an idea (1)

sethradio (2603921) | about 4 months ago | (#46950901)

Hey! We should call it Keystone!!

Re:I have an idea (1, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 4 months ago | (#46951303)

To be fair, Keystone deserves all the hate and fury it can attract. They go on TV talking about how misunderstood the Keystone project is, and spout irrelevant bullshit.

The worst claim I've heard: Keystone is good because hundreds of thousands of US Construction Workers think it should go through. That's like saying abolishing capital punishment is good because hundreds of child rapist-murderers think we should do so. It's like saying raising the minimum liability insurance requirements is good because all major insurance companies think it's good. It's like saying we should bed foxes with hens because the fox supports it.

This argument doesn't mean Keystone is bad; it means people who stand to profit from Keystone want it to happen. No. Fucking. Shit.

They respond to concerns by espousing emotional appeals or strawman arguments rather than meaningful rebuttals. Even if the technical concerns are unfounded, the company is untrustworthy.

Re:I have an idea (2)

Wookact (2804191) | about 4 months ago | (#46951611)

As someone who lives in the state holding up the Keystone, I will tell you we don't want it here unless you can route it around environmentally sensitive areas like the sand hills and the Ogallala aquifer. That and the fact that we gave eminent domain rights to a foreign company, how perverse is that. A foreign company gets to take away your land. You'd think that those on the right would hate it. They don't its worth too much money for them.

Re:I have an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951791)

Youre right! We should start building pipelines to each and every town with more than 500 people. Its more efficient!

Aka: railway is not perfectly leveled. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46950807)

Warps in train track can induce oscillations in individual carrier wagons to derail them at somewhat higher speeds 50 MPH plus plus. Mainly in freezing conditions and heat-stroke wave situations.

The price of excessive environmental oversite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46950831)

I wonder if environmental groups in fact intended this to happen so they would gain more power and control. If people see deaths and burning oil everywhere they can claim it is horrible for the environment and too dangerous to transport. If the pipeline had been built there would be thousands of primary jobs and ten's of thousands of secondary tertiary jobs. The oil would make it to market safely and the environuts would be without a leg to stand on. I honestly hope the intelligent members of the public will see this duplicity and push more towards a pipeline and take away a good portion of the environuts power. I know we need environmental safeguards, but with the technology and safety rules in place a pipeline is very safe. We have thousands of them crisscrossing this country already (USA), and one more is unlikely to end the world.

Re:The price of excessive environmental oversite. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 4 months ago | (#46950935)

I wonder what you'd be saying if this article were about a pipeline spill instead...

Re:The price of excessive environmental oversite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951113)

Bit it's not. And even if this were about a pipeline spill, that still wouldn't negate the fact that pipelines are safer.

Re:The price of excessive environmental oversite. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 4 months ago | (#46951321)

The difference in safety and major spills is infinitesimally small and pipelines cause more minor leaks.

Feds Issue Emergency Order On Crude Oil Trains (4, Insightful)

danielpauldavis (1142767) | about 4 months ago | (#46950839)

What I call the "suffering quotient": if 1 person dies, that 1 unkonwn person's death is largely ignored. If 50 or 100 die, we might do something about preventing the next accident (we might not.) Conversely, if a famous person dies, we pay attention and deal with the problem that killed our celebrity. We need to get some famous people killed by these crude oil spills or nothing will be done.

Re:Feds Issue Emergency Order On Crude Oil Trains (5, Funny)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 4 months ago | (#46950899)

I nominate Justin Beiber for this heroic endeavor.

Re:Feds Issue Emergency Order On Crude Oil Trains (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46950953)

As a bonus, some of these incidents are happening in Canada, and he's a Canadian!

Re:Feds Issue Emergency Order On Crude Oil Trains (1)

Arith (708986) | about 4 months ago | (#46951133)

Sorry, this won't achieve the desired results; he's not our beloved celebrity.
Oh, I didn't say "Don't do it"

Re:Feds Issue Emergency Order On Crude Oil Trains (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 4 months ago | (#46951231)

That might work if 14 year old girls were making the rules, but they aren't.

Why not just end subsidies for oil and gas? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 4 months ago | (#46951067)

There, problem solved.

That said, I'm surprised there isn't a US reality TV show "Train Wreck".

Re:Why not just end subsidies for oil and gas? (1)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 4 months ago | (#46951161)

Why not just end subsidies for oil and gas? There, problem solved.

Here is why it will not happen anytime soon, just replace the context with Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Disruption:

Hersman says that over her 10 years on the board she has 'seen a lot of difficulty when it comes to safely rules being implemented if we don't have a high enough body count. That is a tombstone mentality. We know the steps that will prevent or mitigate

They are waiting for a high enough body count. Considering the magnitude of the changes required to address Climate Change in any meaningful way and the resulting short term costs to industry, I'd guesstimate that the body count will have to be shockingly significant, but by then it will all probably be too late to do anything anyway...

Re:Why not just end subsidies for oil and gas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951329)

That said, I'm surprised there isn't a US reality TV show "Train Wreck".

Isn't that also called Keeping Up with the Kardashians?

holy crap (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#46951069)

"requiring that railroads inform state emergency management officials about the movement of large shipments of crude oil "

there not doing that now? that's the most basic courtesy and emergency preparedness. It's irresponsible.

Re:holy crap (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 4 months ago | (#46951339)

Haha I have a friend who got hassled by cops for hauling two barrels of race gas on a trailer.

Never ever heard about this happening in Europe. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951125)

Even had to Google it.

FIIMBY (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 4 months ago | (#46951397)

a lot of difficulty when it comes to safely rules being implemented if we don't have a high enough body count

Congress won't really care unless it's rich people getting killed, Wall Street banks getting destroyed or the accidents are FIIMBY -- Fuck It's In My Back Yard -- (thank you The Daily Show for that acronym).

Energy in Train load: 11 Tanker Cars = 1 nucBomb (2)

RichMan (8097) | about 4 months ago | (#46951435)

So how much energy is there in a train load of Cude Oil?

Energy denisty of crude oil ~46MJ/Kg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density)
DOT-111 tanker car of Lac Magantic fire is 131,000 L (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DOT-111_tank_car)
Assuming 1L/1Kg - some of these oils float some of the really thick stuff sinks.

Per Tanker car 6.026x10^12 J/ Tank Car.
Little Boy explosion was equivalent to 16,000 tons of TNT (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Boy)
16000 tons of TNT is 66944000 MJ of energy (http://www.kylesconverter.com/energy,-work,-and-heat/megajoules-to-tons-of-tnt).
Or 1 Litte Boy = 66.944x10^12 J
or 1 Little Boy = 11.11 Tanker Cars of Crude Oil

The DOT is the problem... (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 4 months ago | (#46951509)

The old DOT-111 standard for tank cars was horribly inadequate. They have adopted a new DOT-111 standard for new cars being built but they have not required the companies that own the older tank cars to upgrade. Most of the tank cars being used in the US are not owned by the railroads but by the companies doing the shipping. If the NTSB and DOT would come out with an emergency order to use only new-standard DOT-111 tank cars or use DOT-112 tank cars, the problem would be largely fixed. The old-standard DOT-111 tank cars are easily punctured in a derailment and cause horrific fires while new-standard DOT-111 tank cars and DOT-112 tank cars do not. Obviously, companies do not want to spend a lot of money to upgrade but that is not even the reason for the foot-dragging which is related to the huge increase in crude oil shipments requiring tank cars for which only the old-standard DOT-111 tank cars are available. There needs to be a crash program to upgrade and retrofit. This isn't rocket science. What is missing is not 'national will' or even 'money' but 'leadership' from the NTSB and DOT, the very people who are wringing their hands and saying nothing can be done.

We see these trains every day (1)

spywhere (824072) | about 4 months ago | (#46951525)

We live near a big oil refinery in Delaware City, where huge mile-long oil trains arrive all the time. They pass on a track that's about a mile from us. A big house fire happened between us and the tracks about a month ago... we were ready to bug out.

Easy (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 4 months ago | (#46951547)

Make the companies (and executives) legally liable when disasters happen because of defective equipment or not enough security measures.

Suggested solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951779)

If the problem is one car ruptures and sets the whole train on fire,
      then group the oil cars in clumps separated by non-oil cars.

The groups should be small enough to that they do not overwhelm the local fire responders.

New, fancy oil cars may be better than what they are doing now, but simply not having too much fuel in one clump seems better, simpler, cheaper, ...

Are Fracking Fluids to Blame? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46951839)

http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Are-Fracking-Fluids-to-Blame-for-Rail-Car-Explosions.html

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