There are problems arising with oil and trains.
Here is a fact: more oil was spilled from trains in the US in 2013 than in the past 38 years combined (HuffPost). 1.15 million gallons were reported spilled in 2013, and only 800,000 gallons reported spilled the previous 38 years (from 1975 to 2012).
Most of the oil from the reported spills comes from the Baaken oil field in North Dakota and the surrounding area.
Here is another fact: these derailments don’t only spill oil into communities and rivers, but result in death like the one in Quebec last June which killed 47 people along with spilling about 1 million gallons. Since this spill was in Canada, it does not count toward the total count, but if it did, the spill-gallon count would be doubled.
Many have been pointing fingers in an attempt to fix the problem. Is the problem over-loaded cars and an abundance of shipments? Or perhaps the tank cars aren’t up to safety code. That could be the cause, as it was in the 2010 BP oil spill.
If it were up to me to guess, I would say it’s because crude oil production has gone up in recent years. That paired with old equipment and more trains on the rails seems like the problem.
However, how are we going to fix this? Since the Keystone XL Pipeline has had issues with development thus far (including a recent Nebraska court ruling further hindering development), more oil is likely to hit the rails, as that is one of the only plausible ways to move oil from the West to the East.
Last week, the Missoulian reported that an emergency order was passed “requiring more stringent testing of crude oil before shipment by rail to determine how susceptible the cargo is to explosion or fire.” This is due to the increased number of oil train explosions, namely in response to the oil train derailment/explosion in Quebec last summer (which polluted and killed).
Stay tuned for part 2 on Thursday: how these oil train derailments could harm Glacier National Park and my new state, Montana.