Another bomb train exploded in Oregon last week, the latest in a string of disasters that Big Oil and their backers in government are doing nothing to stop. Sign here to demand that President Obama's DOT Ban the Bomb Trains.
Last week, an aptly-named #BombTrain carrying volatile Bakken oil derailed in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. The accident ignited a huge fire that emergency crews were unable to put out for hours, prompting evacuations and road closures around the nearby town of Mosier, OR.1
About 100 people had to be evacuated after multiple cars caught fire. Elizabeth Sanchey, one of the first responders, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that the scene “looked like the apocalypse.”2 While no one was hurt or killed (this time), the state of Washington estimated that an accident like this one next to the Columbia River could cause more than $170 million in environmental damage and take decades to mitigate. A sheen of oil was spotted on the Columbia River near the derailment this weekend.3
Mosier city officials quickly passed an emergency motion calling on Union Pacific to remove all oil from the damaged cars before the line was reopened, but Union Pacific just pushed the disabled cars to the side of the track and restarted operations.4 As of this writing, the cars are still filled with oil. And Mosier isn't alone - bomb trains roll through dozens of major cities and thousands of local communities.5 If we want to protect our communities and our planet, there's only one solution: We need to Ban the Bomb Trains!
That's why we're once again teaming up with dozens of local communities and Stand (formerly Forest Ethics) to plan another week of action this July 6-12. Together, we want to plan 100 actions from coast to coast that call for a ban on the Bomb Trains and an end to dangerous fossil fuel extraction and transportation. Will you stand with us? Sign here to call for a ban on bomb trains and get connected to a local rally (or plan one) near you!
Last week's accident is unacceptable, but it's far from an isolated incident. In 2013 a train carrying Bakken crude oil from the United States derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people and destroying much of the town center.6 More than a dozen derailments and explosions have occurred in the years since, leading to evacuations, oil spills, and, in some cases, fires that burned for days.
Many residents have no idea that bomb trains roll through dozens of major cities. And local firefighters and first responders often don't have the information or training they need to fight a bomb train fire.7 That lack of transparency, coupled with the increasing shipments of oil by rail is putting us on a collision course with disaster. The rush to ship more oil is being driven by Congress' short-sighted decision to lift the ban on exporting crude oil last year.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) issued new safety rules last year, but they were toothless and clearly don't work - and I'm not even talking about the Mosier accident. Last year was the costliest on record for oil train accidents with bomb trains causing an estimated $29.7 million in damages. That's right: since the DOT rules were enacted, the cost of cleaning up bomb train disasters has INCREASED by more than 300 percent.8
There's only one way to really protect our communities, and our planet, from these dangerous oil shipments: we need to ban the bomb trains for good, and keep oil and all fossil fuels in the ground.
Drew and the Ban the Bomb Trains Crew at Environmental Action
1 - Aaron Rupar, Major Oil Train Derailment In Oregon, Think Progress, June 4, 2016
2 - Katie Herzog, Oregon explosion reminds us that oil trains are “weapons of mass destruction”, Grist, June 6, 2016
3 - The Associated Press, Worst-case spill scenarios outlined for proposed Vancouver oil terminal, May 28, 2016
4 - GILLIAN FLACCUS and PHUONG LE, Anger as trains resume after Oregon derailment, fire, US News and World Report, June 6, 2016
5 - Blast Zone Map, Forest Ethics
6 - After Lac Mégantic, we thought there’d be fewer runaway trains. We were wrong, The Globe and Mail, May 30, 2016
7 - Eric M. Johnson, Oregon derailment likely to reignite oil-by-rail safety concerns, Reuters, June 6, 2016
8 - Samantha Page, The U.S. Has An Oil Train Problem, Think Progress, December 3, 2015