Category Archives: Blast zone

Oil Train Blast Zones – Interactive map by ForestEthics

Repost from ForestEthics
[Editor: ForestEthics has published an interactive map showing blast zones across the U.S., searchable by zip code or city.  It may be a bit too ambitious in scope.  For instance, details are missing in Northern California and Benicia.  Still, it serves as a visual warning to all who live near the tracks as Big Oil and the railroad industry gear up for crude by rail.  Check it out, and sign their petition while you are there.  – RS]


When oil trains derail we all pay the price. How close are you and your family to a disaster waiting to happen? Use the ForestEthics blast zone map to find out and take action.


Millions of Americans live in the blast zone. Do you?

Every day the oil industry sends millions of gallons of highly flammable crude oil through cities and towns across North America. Our rail system was never built for this dangerous cargo.

It’s time to take action! Sign the petition: Tell the President and Congress to stop the threat of oil train disasters today!

To: US President Obama and Congress

It seems each month another town is facing a terrifying oil train derailment, poisoned drinking water, or a deadly explosion. Our rail system takes these trains through population centers by schools and homes. Safety standards are weak and our emergency responders are not equipped for accidents.

We are not prepared for this threat:

  1. Oil trains are more than a mile-long with 100+ cars, concentrating the risk of an accident that could ignite the three million gallons of crude on a single train.
  2. Oil train traffic has increased more than 4,000 percent in the last five years.
  3. Rail routes run right through major urban areas and cross water supplies. The US rail system was not designed to transport dangerous crude oil.
  4. Dangerous DOT-111 cars, which make up the majority of US oil tanker trains, have serious flaws that make them highly prone to puncture during a derailment.

We have the solution:

  • The first step: Ban unsafe oil tanker cars.
  • We must prepare and equip emergency responders and reroute trains around population centers and away from water supplies.
  • New rail safety rules must be strong and must give citizens the information they need to protect themselves and the power to say no.

We do not need the extreme oil transported by these trains. The crude oil carried by train is more explosive and more toxic than conventional crude oil; it is also more carbon intensive. At a time when our oil use is decreasing and the threat of climate disruption is growing, the risk from oil trains is unacceptable.

Learn More

Officials discuss rerouting oil trains around Richmond, VA

Repost from WTVR CBS6, Richmond, Virginia
[Editor: excellent video, including potential blast zone map – apologies for the ad that precedes the TV news report. – RS]

Officials discuss rerouting trains around Richmond that transport volatile oil

June 2, 2014, by Melissa Hipolit, Updated June 3, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. — Fire officials in Central Virginia said the probability of a large train derailment in the City of Richmond involving a train carrying a volatile type of oil is very low, but if one did happen, they would not have the capability to respond alone.

Deputy Fire Marshall and Hazmat Coordinator Captain Darl Jewell with the Richmond Fire Department and Assistant Fire Chief Rick Edinger with the Chesterfield Fire Department both said trains have derailed in the area over the years, but nothing like the recent disasters in Lynchburg and Quebec.

“Minor derailments happen more often than you think, but they’re often never reported,” Jewell said.

Jewell said between four and six trains a week pass through Richmond carrying a particularly combustible form of oil.

“It literally burned the downtown area down before they could get the fire under control,” Edinger said about the derailment in Quebec.

If some of those train cars were to fall of the tracks in Richmond, Edinger and Jewell said the results could be devastating.

“It would be like a large plane crash,” Edinger said.

Edinger said most localities are prepared to respond to an accident involving a truck carrying 9,000 gallons of oil.

Compare that to the amount of oil carried in a single car on one of those oil trains, which can reach 30,000 gallons, and those trains, can have up to 100 cars.

Edinger said that means a single train could have more than a million gallons of oil on board.

CBS 6 asked Edinger if departments are prepared to handle a worst case scenario, something even like the Lynchburg derailement.

“There aren’t many departments, if any, that have the capability to immediately respond to that,” Edinger said.

Edinger said that volume is why local fire departments need more resources and training.

“We need some more comprehensive training, and we’ve had those discussions with the railroads,” Edinger said.

Fire officials define the “worst case scenario” for this situation would involve 33 train cars derailing in Shockoe Bottom.

If that were to happen during peak business hours, the impact could stretch to a half mile radius encompassing hundreds of thousands of people.

Edinger and Jewell said they are in talks with the railroad company and government officials about possibly rerouting the trains that carry the volatile oil around Richmond.

Jewell said the railroad company inspects the tracks twice a week to prevent derailment.