Mike O'Brien and the Mayor Have a New Oil Train Safety Resolution. But Will It Actually Protect Us?


I doubt even a disaster would result in a few measly fines for BNSF. Our lives aren't as important as their profits.
Excuse me, I doubt it would result in anything more than a few measly fines*
In a recent article in Crosscut, a Seattle Fire Department representative said, “There’s no department in the world that could deal with a scenario like Quebec or the most recent one in West Virginia,” so let's not kid ourselves.

Here's a thought...instead of putting our firefighters, children, and towns, in the way of 350 foot fireballs, & spending taxpayer money to prepare for the next Lac-Megantic; perhaps the Bakken producers should be made to remove the explosive gases, like propane, butane, ethane, and methane, from the flammable crude, before pouring the whole concoction into a hundred 30,000 gallon tubes, and running them through our towns. It's called stabilization, and the oil industry has been doing it since the world was black & white.

Why oil trains (don't have to) explode: http://s.oregonlive.com/uxda2zU

If you don't like oil, fight for Hydrogen

Toyota and Hino to test hydrogen fuel cell buses on Toyko bus routes

The hydrogen-based society is one step closer to reality. Toyota Motor Corp. and Hino Motors will begin testing buses powered with hydrogen fuel cells on Tokyo streets next week.

As a practical matter, this really is something best dealt with on a federal level. These trains pass through dozens of states, and hundreds of counties and municipalities. It just doesn't make sense to give smaller government bodies the power to regulate rail transport issues. That's why we have a NTSB.

I agree we need much better safety precautions and better regulation, but it really needs to come from the feds, not the Seattle city council. Otherwise the rail lines would fall under a morass of differing regulations from different jurisdictions ever few dozen miles all across the country, and rail transport would drown in overlapping and conflicting bureaucracy. You might thank that's fine, but it would effect all goods, not just oil: food, clothes, electronics, everything you order from Amazon, etc.

So while their heart is definitely in the right place, this is really kind of a terrible idea. They'd be better off pressing the federal government for better regulation. We all should.
On a practical level it's just a few tens of thousands of millionaires that will die in an oil train explosion so no biggie. Good thing I live north of the Ship Canal ...
Over the next 20 years, predicts the DOT, we will average 10 oil train derailments, totaling $ 4 billion in property damage alone. If a derailment causes an explosion in an urban area like Cleveland, that one event could exceed that total. That's why Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown wants to beef up the regulation of railroads.
His bill would force an early retirement for unsafe tank cars, set up a clean fund for rail spills, improve training for first responders, and reroute hazmat trains around cities.
The Federal Railroad Administration is supposed to strictly enforce railroad health and safety regulations and there would be less chance of a derailment if they did. But the words "collegial" and "cooperative" more accurately describe their relationship with the railroads.
Sign the attached petition to let the FRA hear from someone whose first concern is safety not profit. Add a comment so they hear from a counterweight to the stream of railroad lobbyists who form a daily line of supplicants at their door. http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/enforce…
Maybe we could stop them with congestion charges?

I would love to see Seattle enact a downtown congestion charge anyway, other methods to discourage SOVs in the downtown core are not doing enough.

I propose the following rate schedule:
$5 per passenger car
$75 per crude oil train car
I hope our local politicians enjoy a curt Glomar response about just how hazardous an oil train derailment could be.
Go Eor, Go! I am sorry the Council wasted staff and hearing resources on this when those resources could have been directed to legislation on something the City of Seattle actually controls and can do something about (E.g. Public safety, homelessness, parks).

I am also glad that the U.S. Constitution reserves to Congress regulation of interstate commerce. I am glad the City of Boise can't ban the transport of some product or service they don't like but get consumed in Seattle. If a City can stand in the way of oil trains, what is next? Beef because a City's electorate has suddenly become vegetarian? Hydrogen Peroxide to clean wounds, because it is volatile and flammable?
Several gruesome scenarios loom over our city. 20 bomb trains a week today, plenty of chance for clickity clacking DOT-111s to zoom along through the tunnel. When the chlorine cars meet up with oil trains, a figure in a window releases a short volley of green-tipped 50 caliber Brownings into the tops of the cars, sparking the explosion, launching the Torch through the tunnel for a mile through Seattle for several days with the chlorine gas spreading 15 miles long, 5 miles wide. Similar shots ring out in similar cities. 5 minutes 9 bullets. 9 windows. Bad day for Berkshire Hathaway. Lost his shirt.