Tag Archives: Vancouver Action Network

Oil Train Week of Action July 6-13, 2014

Repost from San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center

Oil Train Week of Action July 6-13, 2014

by Matt Landon ( vancouveractionnetwork [at] gmail.com )
Jun 20th, 2014

Bakken crude oil trains have exploded at least 8 times since the first a year ago in Canada. Please plan an action during July 6-13, 2014 to protest the continued endangerment of our communities by the oil by rail industry.

Please repost far and wide.

Are explosive Bakken crude oil trains coming through your town? / Actions you can take now!

July 6, 2014 marks the one year anniversary of the first major oil train explosion in Canada which took the lives of 47 people. The week of July 6-13, 2014 is an international week of action to mark this anniversary and make sure these folk’s lives were not lost in vain. Your actions should not be limited to this one week as we are dealing with an entrenched oil and rail industry and don’t settle for anything less than the a complete ban on any oil shipped by DOT 111 and DOT 111a cars.

Actions are being posted on http://www.stopoiltrains.org

When you organize a protest please contact us at vancouveractionnetwork [at] gmail.com

We have come up with tactics here in Vancouver, Washington to take this from a defensive to an offensive fight against the oil by rail industry. Please consider using these tactics as they are and will be effective. If you begin using this tactics please contact us so we can help document your work. If you need tech support contact us.

Take care, matt landon with Vancouver Action Network vancouveractionnetwork.blogspot.com

Check out this map to see if oil trains are coming through– http://priceofoil.org/rail-map/

Oil trains are bad because they have blown up at least 8 times in the last year killing innocent railside residents and polluting the environment. As the US and Canada have increased their oil extraction and production–and as resistance to oil pipelines becomes more effective–the use of trains to transport oil has skyrocketed, leaving communities vulnerable to explosions, oil spills, and unmonitored oil train air emissions. We must take action now to stop this trend!

Call to Action— Nationwide protests and formation of an International Oil Train Activists movement

This is a call for activists to join in creating an International Oil Train Activists movement and to help organize mass non-violent protests across the North American continent against explosive oil trains.

We have three nationwide protest actions.

1) First contact your state Emergency Management Agency and fill out a public records request for information which the railroads have provided to the EMA’s in relation to DOT Emergency Order DOT-OST-2014-0067 and which was due by June 7, 2014.

Find your state EMA– http://www.fema.gov/state-offices-and-agencies-emergency-management

For more info about DOT Emergency Order– http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/emergency-order

Information on public records request in WA– http://www.mil.wa.gov/about/about_public_records_disclosure.shtml

Here is the request form for Washington state– http://www.mil.wa.gov/about/documents/mil_public_records_request_form.pdf

Please print the above form and fill in the following information including your name, date, email and signature and return to the WA state EMA or your state EMA.

We have filed an information request here in Washington state and the EMA informed us that the railroad would likely seek a court injunction against our request. This is GREAT because it means that the railroad is spending between several hundred and several thousand dollars to keep one person from one group from getting this information! Let’s see how many people we can get to request this information and how much money we can cost the railroads. We plan to request this information in 49 US states.

When you request info from your state EMA please let us know vancouveractionnetwork [at] gmail.com

2) Since the railroads won’t release their oil train information we can just generate the information ourselves. You can start a 100% Oil Train Watch in your city, town, or neighborhood by using Twitter on a computer or smart phone. If you see a 100% oil train Tweet the time, location, direction of train travel, and your state’s abbreviation in the hashtag such as #waoiltrainwatch for Washington state or #tnoiltrainwatch for Tennessee. By watching and recording these trains we can be a warning siren for first responders, elected officials and the general public with real time information. We can also use this information to provide a check on the info the railroads provide to the state EMAs, and on possible total oil train volume violations of air quality permits of current export facilities.

To view our Train Watching activities go to vancouveractionnetwork.blogspot.com

Let us know you are Tweeting about 100% oil trains at vancouveractionnetwork [at] gmail.com

3) The Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration are the two agencies that regulate Hazardous Materials shipping via railroads. We demand that they immediately issue an Emergency Order halting the hauling of any type of crude oil in the outdated and unsafe DOT 111 and DOT 111a railcars. By organizing a protest in your own city or state you will be joining in the growing movement to bring a halt to these explosive oil trains before the next city is vaporized, life is lost, or environment spoiled.

The Department of Transportation has the authority to deem the DOT 111 and DOT 111a railcar fleet unsafe for hauling explosive crude oil yet they have been dragging their feet on taking real action. We demand they take immediate action. Each state has multiple regional DOT offices and we need protests at each one.

Department of Transportation state/ regional offices and headquarters in Washington DC– https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/foisp/staffnetStateDOT.do
and

Federal Railroad Administration regional offices — http://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0244
Headquarters Washington DC Region 1 Cambridge, MA Region 2 Crum Lynne, PA Region 3 Atlanta, GA Region 4 Chicago, IL Region 5 Fort Worth, TX Region 6 Kansas City, MO Region 7 Sacramento, CA Region 8 Vancouver, WA

4) Consider attending the Washington Oil Train Summit August 22-23, 2014 at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. More info at http://washingtonoiltrainsummit.blogspot.com This summit will mainly be focused on solidifying the WA Oil Train Activists actions but we are inviting representatives from other groups to attend as well so that we can grow the International movement.

Thanks Matt Landon with Vancouver Action Network vancouveractionnetwork.blogspot.com

    NRDC Senior Scientist: Another explosion, and slow progress on tank car regulations

    Repost from NRDC Switchboard, Diane Bailey’s Blog

    This Washington, that Washington on Crude Oil by Rail

     Diane Bailey | Posted April 30, 2014

    Diane Bailey

    This afternoon brought news of another fiery crude oil train derailment.  Luckily no one was hurt in the Lynchburg, Virginia accident, but flames were shooting up as high as the 19th floor of one bystander’s office building, oil was spilling into the James River and hundreds have been evacuated.  The billowing black plumes of smoke serve as a warning not just to the 77,000 people living in Lynchburg but to everyone living near rail lines or terminals that the growing transport of long crude oil trains is incredibly dangerous.

    It’s not clear that mile long crude oil trains can ever be made safe, but they are upon us, so while we are fighting to keep them out of communities, we better make every effort to improve the situation.  This blog includes notes on the National Transportation Safety Board Rail Safety Forum on the Transportation of Crude Oil and Ethanol  in Washington D.C. last week from Fred Millar, a well-known rail safety expert; and a summary of fieldwork from a leading activist, Matt Landon, who is oil trainspotting in Washington State. (What is oil trainspotting?)

    The NTSB Forum in DC last week was packed with industry shippers and carriers, NTSB oil forum.jpgtechnical, policy, emergency response and regulatory experts, all talking about hazardous materials transportation issues and crude oil train derailments disasters. From that discussion, the top two strategies to address these safety risks involve federal regulations: (1) Ordering a fast retrofit of existing tank cars with a strong safety standard, and a similarly strong standard for new tank cars; and (2) re-routing the unit trains around major cities.

    As far as the tank cars go, NTSB Chairman Hersman noted that federal agencies could use emergency powers to quickly issue safety-forcing Emergency Orders and even Interim Final Regulations.  She recounted an expeditious federal action in the 1970’s, when the DOT ordered speedy retrofits of pressurized “jumbo” tank cars DOT-112A and DOT-114A that experienced dangerous failures.

    In February 1978, a rail tanker explosion killed 16, in Waverly, TN.  Less than a year later, in January 1979 the DOT Secretary reported that nearly all of the defective tanker cars had been retrofitted, and soon thereafter it was obvious that the package of three railcar retrofit devices had reduced serious pressurized railcar releases significantly. During that rulemaking process, it’s important to note that although the industry warned that only four shops could do railcar retrofits and they would take 3 days each, the NTSB ultimately found that 100 shops could retrofit tank cars, and each would take 93 minutes.

    So, technically and politically, rail tanker cars can be retrofitted or replaced quickly. And in the case of the puncture-prone DOT-111 tanker cars now used to carry significant amounts of crude oil, speed is called for in their replacement as well.  According to researcher, Dr. David Jeong of DOT, using sophisticated models, the “legacy” DOT-111 tank cars are estimated to spill their contents in an accident over 25 percent of the time, whereas other models are less likely to breach in an accident. For example, COC-1232 tanker cars with full height head shields are estimated to breach in only 6 percent of accidents; and the proposed new design for more robust tanker cars with a thicker shell would only breach in 4 percent of accidents. While imperfect, these newer designs are clearly much safer and should be phased in immediately.

    It remains to be seen what this week’s expected federal proposal on rail car safety will bring.  In the meantime, the Canadian government announced last week that industry must – at its own cost – replace 5,000 DOT-111 tanker cars within 30 days, and another 65,000 DOT-111 cars must be removed or retrofitted within three years.

    This is a significant step, although three years is a long time to wait, and the regulations do not address re-routing of trains around cities.  In Canada, however, the railroads will have to provide hazmat rail flow information to local emergency responders (note: the public still will not have access to this). The US has no such requirement on the railroads.  Also, to make matters worse, the current “routing selection tools” used by railroads in the U.S. are not disclosed to anyone and receive minimal government oversight.  Railroads and governments have blocked any effort to keep dangerous trains away from the most populated areas by keeping the routing secret and unaccountable, unmeasured as to effectiveness.

    firefighter tanker train.jpgHow can emergency responders deal with crude oil rail accidents?  A panel concluded that the best tactic is to let a derailment burn, pull back, and take a “defensive posture”.  Emergency responders were clear that the ongoing crude oil rail disasters are beyond their capabilities to handle.  “Even with an infinite amount of costly foam”, letting them burn is the only sensible approach (and this is what was done in Lynchburg this afternoon).  They note that major derailments would require enormous amounts of foam, there is not enough water to apply it especially in rural areas, and anyway, they cannot get close enough to the fires to apply it.  Derailments in urban areas would pose significant operating risks that go well beyond current operational capabilities for emergency responders.

    In the meantime, Matt Landon with the Vancouver Action Network, set out to find whether crude oil trains are leaking fumes in the other Washington – State, that is. This past month, Matt initiated the Washington State Train Watch 2014 covering Spokane, the Columbia River Gorge, Washougal, Camas, Vancouver, Fruit Valley, and Everett, recording the number of oil and coal trains coming through these communities.  Using a FLIR Gasfindir GF320 hydrocarbon viewing video camera, this footage of air emissions from a train carrying crude oil thought to be from the North Dakota Bakken was posted.  Watching this video makes you wonder who is monitoring the air emissions from leaky crude oil trains, how much is leaking, who is exposed and how dangerous is it?

    leaking oil train.jpg

    Back in Washington D.C., waiting for an announcement on new rail safety measures from U.S. DOT, Fred Millar provided more information from the rail safety forum.  Participants in the NTSB Forum recognize the scope and seriousness of the Crude by Rail issues, given that 80 percent of the 1 million barrels per day of Bakken crude oil produced is shipped by rail, and production is growing, yet there is no single silver bullet to address the rail safety risks.

    In addition to the need for improved tanker cars and routing discussed above, there are additional improvements that can be made to rail operations and to emergency response.

    One key factor in train derailments that influences the extent of damage is speed.  The models that predict failure rates of tank cars during derailments use an “average accident” speed of 27 mph. Yet, even the NTSB Chair Hersman pointed out that it is not realistic, given the higher speeds seen in some of the serious derailments in recent years and the fact that the new standard adopted by the railroads on routes outside of major cities is 50 mph.  Reducing train speeds would be one effective strategy to reduce risk of catastrophic derailments.

    It is also essential to strengthen emergency response capabilities. No one at the Forum asked or speculated on what would it cost if railroads paid for adequate emergency preparedness or if FRA increased their oversight in any serious way. The scale of the needs here is vast, given that there are an estimated 2 million firefighters, 80% of which are volunteers, and 20% of those turn over every year.  They all need hazmat training and appropriate resources to respond in any real way to a unit crude oil train accident.rail placard.jpg

    Finally, in order for emergency responders to do their jobs, they need to know what substance they are dealing with during an accident.  Full disclosure of tanker train contents and characteristics is essential.  Communities also have a right to know this information about the mile long trains hurtling through their neighborhood, but this was never even mentioned during the Forum.

    The residents of Lynchburg, Virginia and thousands of others who have witnessed the devastation of crude oil train derailments over the past year probably join me in wondering whether the federal government is going to do anything to keep these dangerous oil trains out of communities, or try to make those tanker trains safer, or make the trains slow down, or provide adequate emergency response resources, or… anything.  How many more fiery derailments will it take to act?

    Full notes of Fred Millar are available to community, public health and safety advocates upon request.

      Vancouver Action Network: monitoring air emissions from Bakken crude oil trains

      Repost from Vancouver Action Network
      [Editor: take a look – this is a revealing – and shocking – indication of the kind of fugitive emissions we can expect from crude oil tank cars.  NOT in Benicia!  – RS]

      Vancouver Action Network Oil Train Monitoring with FLIR Gasfindir GF320 hydrocarbon viewing video camera

      Published on Apr 19, 2014

      Vancouver Action Network is monitoring the air emissions from Bakken crude oil trains using a FLIR Gasfindir GF320 hydrocarbon viewing video camera.  Our monitoring program is part of Washington State Train Watch 2014 which runs from April 16-27 and has participants in Spokane, the Columbia River Gorge, Washougal, Camas, Vancouver, Fruit Valley, and Everett.  We are recording the number of oil and coal trains which come through our communities.  Go to vancouveractionnetwork.blogspot.com for more info or find us on Facebook.  We have internships!