Repost from The Riverside Press Enterprise
[Editor: This Southern California newspaper regrets that rail routing information about its Inland Area has so far not been made available to first responders or the public. Significant quote: “So far the Office of Emergency Services has received two letters from BNSF Railway, dated June 6 and 13, which say that one train carrying plains crude went through Sacramento County and eight other counties during the week of June 5 to 11, and none entered California during the previous week….Union Pacific submitted a letter May 29 to the state office, saying the company was ‘compiling and reviewing the data.’” – RS]
California wants details on crude oil shipments by railroad
It’s unclear whether any oil trains have passed through the Inland area, but officials want to know so they can plan for possible accidents.By David Danelski, June 26, 2014
Disclosures from railroad companies about volatile crude oil shipments from the Northern Plains are starting to be made public after the Obama administration last month ordered that such information be shared with states.
But so far only a trickle of details about the dangerous cargo has been shared with California’s emergency response agency. Initial information from one railroad showed that some of the oil has been shipped into Northern California.
“We are working with them to provide more information so our first responders can better prepare for accidents and derailments,” said Kelly Huston, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
It remains unclear whether any of the shipments of crude oil have passed through the Inland area
So far the Office of Emergency Services has received two letters from BNSF Railway, dated June 6 and 13, which say that one train carrying plains crude went through Sacramento County and eight other counties during the week of June 5 to 11, and none entered California during the previous week.
Union Pacific submitted a letter May 29 to the state office, saying the company was “compiling and reviewing the data.”
BNSF Railway spokeswoman Roxanne Butler said her company is complying with the federal order, which pertains only to crude shipments since May that have come from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana.
Most of the crude oil coming into California by rail is from Canada, according to 2013 state data.
Butler added that the railroad industry is sponsoring emergency response training in Colorado this summer for firefighters and other professionals who may have to deal with accidents involving trains hauling crude oil. Numerous emergency responders in California have signed up to participate, she said.
Railroad officials in the past have carefully guarded information about about toxic cargo shipments, including times and routes of tank cars loaded with potentially deadly chlorine and ammonia gases, citing security concerns. Such shipments routinely pass by Inland homes, schools and businesses.
In its two letters to the state, BNSF reiterated that crude oil shipment data should kept confidential and released only to “those people with a need to know.”
Huston said state attorneys determined that the BNSF information could be released to the public.
The letters were in response to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s order last month requiring the nation’s railroads to provide states with information about crude shipments from the oil fields in the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana.
Crude oil from shale rock formations below the plains has been involved in most of the major rail accidents as the crude-by-rail industry rapidly expanded in the past several years, The Associated Press reported.
The AP learned this week from public records requests that dozens of the trains are passing weekly through Illinois and the Midwest and up to 19 a week are reaching Washington state.