Neil Young, live: “Mother Earth”

Live from a stop on his “Honour The Treaties” tour.  Neil at the keyboard, singing, with photos of the devastation from tar sands extraction.  More information: – also

“Oh, Mother Earth, with your fields of green, once more laid down by the hungry hand. How long can you give and not receive, and feed this world ruled by greed? … Respect Mother Earth and her giving ways or trade away our children’s days.” — Neil Young

Neil Young – Mother Earth (Natural Anthem) Lyrics

Artist: Neil Young

Oh, mother Earth, with your fields of green
Once more laid down by the hungry hand
How long can you give and not receive
And feed this world ruled by greed?
And feed this world ruled by greed?

Oh, ball of fire in the summer sky
Your healing light, your parade of days
Are they betrayed by the men of power
Who hold this world in their changing hands?
They hold the world in their changing hands
Oh, freedom land, can you let this go
Down to the streets where the numbers grow?
Respect mother Earth and her giving ways
Or trade away our children’s days
Or trade away our children’s days
Respect mother Earth and her healing ways
Or trade away our children’s days

Oil train safety bills in Washington state

Repost from Skagit Valley Herald,

Lawmakers focus on oil train safety in House, Senate bills

Measures move forward as session’s Feb. 18 cutoff approaches

By Daniel DeMay, GOSKAGIT

OLYMPIA — Trains carrying crude oil across Washington, including those that may soon head to the Shell Puget Sound refinery at March Point in Anacortes, are the center of attention in state legislation under consideration this week.

House Bill 2347 and Senate Bill 6524 are both aimed at stepping up the safety of oil trains in the wake of increasing numbers of spills and other rail incidents across the country last year.

The House bill, sponsored by Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle, would require quarterly reporting of oil transport data and a study of the state’s ability to respond to a spill, as well as provisions to increase safety of oil brought by tanker into Puget Sound, Grays Harbor and the Columbia River. The Senate bill would require a study of the safety of rail oil transport in the state, including spill response abilities.

Though the exact increase in oil trains through Washington is unclear, production of oil has risen dramatically in the U.S., mostly due an almost 1,000 percent increase in production in North Dakota, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Burlington City Councilman Chris Loving said the two measures are a step in the right direction, and he hopes they will wind up addressing evacuation in the event of a serious spill.

“There’s no way we could fight a fire (from a spill),” Loving said.

Loving said even the increase of one 100-car train per day that Shell hopes to bring to its refinery would worsen the existing problem of crossing the tracks that split Burlington north and south.

The key for Farrell is transparency about what is passing through towns and cities in rail cars and tankers, and the dangers those products might pose to people, she said Tuesday before a vote on her bill in the House Environment Committee.

“The public has a right to know what’s happening in our communities with regard to oil transport,” she said.

Her measure passed in an 8-5 vote, days before the cutoff to get policy bills out of committee.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, received testimony in a public hearing Tuesday afternoon in the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, chaired by Ericksen. Despite the late hearing, lawmakers there were confident it would get out of committee.

The Senate proposal would require studies of safety and preparedness, create a $10 million fund and direct cities and counties to create first-responder programs for spill response. Unlike the House proposal, the Senate bill would not require disclosure of rail or tanker shipment data and does not call for added provisions on tanker safety.

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, said some version of the bill would move forward, although it may include portions of a third bill on the matter that has yet to be granted a hearing. That bill is essentially the equivalent of Farrell’s House measure.

Ranker said he thinks the issue of oil transport is the biggest environmental and economic issue the state faces.

“It’s something we’ve got to get a handle on,” he said after the hearing. “And right now, we don’t.”

The lack of action in Ericksen’s bill drew criticism from lobbyists and other stakeholders who testified Tuesday. Most agreed that portions of the SB 6262, the companion to Farrell’s measure, would need to be included for SB 6524 to be adequate.

“We’re really in a period of dramatic change,” said Bruce Wishart, a lobbyist for Puget Sound Keeper Alliance. “We really think it deserves more than studying issues.”

The House bill will need to be voted out of the House before Feb. 18 to get further consideration. The Senate bill needs to be out of committee this week and also make it out of the Senate before Feb. 18.

— Reporter Daniel DeMay:; Twitter: @Daniel_SVH

New design for safer tank cars

Repost from The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

New method will optimize car design for safer hazmat transport by rail

By Leslie Sweet Myrick

Transportation and structural engineering researchers are teaming up to develop an analytical method to measure the safety performance of railroad tank cars. Their techniques will be used to establish new industry standards to ultimately reduce the risk of transporting hazardous materials (hazmat) by rail.

“Although 99.998 percent of rail hazmat shipments reach their destination without a release caused by a train accident, potential tank car releases from train accidents could lead to severe consequences, especially if they happen in highly populated areas,” said M. Rapik Saat (BS 03, MS 05, PHD 09), a research assistant professor in the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC).

Saat and his colleague Christopher P.L. Barkan, professor and executive director of RailTEC, are working with Junho Song and Paolo Gardoni, both associate professors in structural engineering, to understand how new tank car designs will perform in accidents.

“A series of catastrophic tank car accidents in the 1960s and early 1970s led to several new safety features and the compilation of databases of information to measure and predict the safety of cars in service,” Barkan said. “As these databases were expanded and refined, it became possible to assess which combinations of changes in tank car safety design were most likely to maximize safety benefits. As part of a project we are finishing up during summer 2013, we updated a statistical model to evaluate tank car safety design using all the new accident information gathered since 1995. We were able to provide significant insight into the effects of some train operational factors, such as speed, that may be related to potential safety improvements that were not previously recognized because of a lack of quantitative information.”

While statistical models have been useful to evaluate existing tank car designs, the ongoing interdisciplinary collaboration between CEE’s railroad and structural engineering groups will pave the way for development of an analytical model to bridge statistical and analytical modeling (i.e. finite element analysis) approaches. For example, the interdisciplinary approach adds the ability to assess potential benefits of using new steel materials and/or structural configurations.

Tank car safety design optimization needs to consider the tradeoff between safety and efficiency, Saat said.

“For example, if you increase a tank car’s thickness, you may make it safer, but you decrease its capacity, and therefore may need more tank cars to carry the same amount of material. Our goal is to help industry find the optimal designs,” he said.

The development of this new analytical model is driven by industry and will be used for policy making.

“For example, with a new tank car design, they will do physical testing and finite element modeling to come up with the puncture energy and then translate the puncture energy to determine potential rate of release with a certain level of uncertainty,” Saat said. “This will advance the industry’s risk-based decision making to ultimately reduce the risk of transporting hazmat by rail.”

The work is a collaborative effort between government agencies and private industries involved in hazmat transportation in North America and is sponsored by the Association of American Railroads, Railway Supply Institute, American Chemistry Council, Chlorine Institute and Fertilizer Institute. CEE graduate students Laura Ghosh and Xiaonan Zhou have contributed to the project as well as Stephen Kirkpatrick from Applied Research Associates and Todd Treichel of the RSI-AAR Railroad Tank Car Safety Research and Test Project. At least one structural engineering student will also join the project team this fall.

The first phase of the new analytical model is expected to be completed in 2014.

Photo: A tank car built by Trinity Industries to the new standards with thicker shell and head and lower-profile protective housing. Risk and optimization models from CEE researcher Rapik Saat’s Ph.D. dissertation work were used to identify potential enhanced tank car designs to transport toxic inhalation hazard materials. These were later used by the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop hazardous material tank car regulations in 2009.

Train sprays crude oil for nearly 70 miles

Repost from The Brainerd Dispatch

Train sprays crude oil for nearly 70 miles

 Posted: February 5, 2014

RED WING – A southbound Canadian Pacific train leaked a trail of about 12,000 gallons of crude oil Monday morning after passing through Red Wing, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

MPCA emergency responders worked with railroad personnel throughout the day Tuesday to gauge the extent of the spill and check for environmental damage, MPCA spokeswoman Cathy Rofshus said.

She described the leak as a “light spray on the ballast rocks” that stretches for nearly 70 miles of track.

A duty officer’s report from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety says the leak started in Red Wing and continued past Winona before it was reported around 9 a.m. Monday. Crews reportedly stopped the train and fixed a missing valve or cap responsible for the spill.

Investigators spent the day Tuesday looking for areas where the oil may have pooled, but so far none has been found, Rofshus said.

For safe and healthy communities…