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News stories tagged with "oil"

Emergency service crews at work in the blast and fire zone of Lac-Megantic. Photo: Surete du Quebec
Emergency service crews at work in the blast and fire zone of Lac-Megantic. Photo: Surete du Quebec

U.S.-Canada mayors call for safer rail oil shipping

Mayors of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River cities are calling for improved safety of oil transportation across through the region.

The mayors of both Canadian and U.S. cities say the reaction of federal governments and energy and transportation companies to accidents such as Lac-Megantic has been slow and insufficient.  Go to full article
Several CSX trains carrying crude oil derailed and exploded last week in Lynchburg, VA. Photo: Elyssa Ezmirly, used with permission
Several CSX trains carrying crude oil derailed and exploded last week in Lynchburg, VA. Photo: Elyssa Ezmirly, used with permission

Feds order disclosure of crude oil train shipments

Railroads will have to tell emergency responders when and where shipments of crude oil are traveling on the rails. That's according to a new order the U.S. Department of Transportation released yesterday.

The rule comes following a string of oil train spills and explosions dating back to last summer's deadly blast in Quebec. The latest occurred last week in Lynchburg, Virginia. The DOT is also "strongly urging" oil companies to pull the most dangerous tanker cars off the rails as soon as possible.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer praised DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx's order yesterday. "A week ago, I asked the secretary to implement this rule," Schumer said by video release, "because the number of tanker cars containing flammable crude oil that are going through our communities in upstate New York is on the dramatic increase and should, god forbid, one of those tank cars derail, it could create an explosion."

David Sommerstein joined Martha Foley to talk about the new rules.  Go to full article
Tanker cars outside the depot in the village of Port Henry. Photo: Brian Mann
Tanker cars outside the depot in the village of Port Henry. Photo: Brian Mann

Is the Champlain Valley vulnerable to an oil train spill?

Last year's deadly train explosion in Quebec put the potential dangers of so-called "oil trains" in the headlines. Trains now carry 160,000 barrels of crude oil from the Bakkan fields in North Dakota every day. Many of them roll through North Country towns on their way to refineries on the East Coast.

Much of the attention so far has focused on the human risk. But on Wednesday, another derailment and explosion in Lynchburg, Virginia, spilled thousands of gallons of crude into the James River, threatening clean water supplies and wildlife.

Green groups called it "a wake up call" to the environmental dangers of shipping crude oil by rail.

One of the rail lines for oil shipments in New York State runs right through the Champlain Valley, in some places just feet from Lake Champlain. About one hundred miles of track cut along the edge of the Adirondack Park.  Go to full article
Several CSX trains carrying crude oil derailed and exploded Wednesday in Lynchburg. Photo: Elyssa Ezmirly, used with permission
Several CSX trains carrying crude oil derailed and exploded Wednesday in Lynchburg. Photo: Elyssa Ezmirly, used with permission

Another oil train explosion; NY urges better train safety

Several CSX rail cars carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in Lynchburg, Va., Wednesday afternoon. Authorities evacuated the area as plumes of black smoke filled the sky. There were no immediate reports of injuries, but there were reports of oil spilling into the James River.

The latest railroad accident involving crude oil came just hours after New York released a report saying the federal government is failing to keep rail towns safe and urging President Barack Obama to act.  Go to full article
A train of oil tankers. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/11072040@N08/6184231577/">Russ Allison Loar</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
A train of oil tankers. Photo: Russ Allison Loar, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

NY, fed agencies do second oil train inspection blitz

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) State and federal inspectors have completed a second round of safety checks of train tracks and oil tanker cars in an effort to prevent disastrous derailments and spills of volatile crude from North Dakota's Bakken region.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Thursday the inspection "blitz" is part of a proactive safety effort launched in January after several severe accidents across the U.S. and Canada.  Go to full article
A train in Casselton, North Dakota carrying crude oil derailed and exploded on Dec. 30, 2013. Photo: Ken Pawluk / Associated Press / latimes.com, via NTSB press release
A train in Casselton, North Dakota carrying crude oil derailed and exploded on Dec. 30, 2013. Photo: Ken Pawluk / Associated Press / latimes.com, via NTSB press release

Schumer presses oil companies on dangerous train tankers

While in Watertown Wednesday, Senator Chuck Schumer said the federal government is not moving fast enough to make trains carrying crude oil safer.

Schumer said volatile shipments of crude oil didn't used to be an issue in New York because there weren't many.  Go to full article
A train of oil tankers. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/11072040@N08/6184231577/">Russ Allison Loar</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
A train of oil tankers. Photo: Russ Allison Loar, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Local officials want more answers about rail-oil safety

At a meeting this week in Elizabethtown, in Essex County, Canadian Pacific refused to disclose its emergency response plan in case of a major rail tanker disaster on its line in the Champlain Valley.

According to the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, CP spokesman Randy Marsh cited security concerns in declining to tell local government leaders and first responders about the company's response plan.  Go to full article
Federal officials in the US have raised concerns about the type of tanker car that erupted in Lac Megantic since at least 1991.  Photo: Brian Mann
Federal officials in the US have raised concerns about the type of tanker car that erupted in Lac Megantic since at least 1991. Photo: Brian Mann

Train tanker cars that exploded in Lac Megantic "inadequate"

It's been nearly three months since an American-operated tanker train derailed and exploded in the town of Lac Megantic in eastern Quebec. The Montreal-Maine and Atlantic train was carrying a cargo of crude oil and other chemicals from oil fields in North Dakota. The massive explosions that followed killed forty-seven people.

In the weeks after the disaster, it has become clear that the clean-up and recovery effort in Lac-Megantic will be far more costly and challenging than once believed. Also, investigators in the US and Canada now acknowledge that there were deep concerns about the safety of the tanker cars used by the railroad.

Those fears first surfaced decades before this deadly accident occurred. Brian Mann has our special report.  Go to full article
Lac-Megantic burning on the first day after the rail car derailment sent fireballs and streams of burning oil coursing through the Quebec village.  (Photo:  Surete du Quebec)
Lac-Megantic burning on the first day after the rail car derailment sent fireballs and streams of burning oil coursing through the Quebec village. (Photo: Surete du Quebec)

In Lac-Megantic, grief and resilience

Back in July, a massive tanker train filled with petroleum from North Dakota derailed in a tiny town in Quebec.
Explosions and fire ripped through the village, killing 47 people and destroying the downtown of Lac-Megantic.

Brian Mann has been covering the aftermath of that disaster for NPR and North Country Public Radio.

He was in Quebec on assignment again over the weekend. He joined Martha Foley on the line from NCPR's bureau in Saranac Lake.  Go to full article
A hydro-fracking tower. (Photo: The Innovation Trail.)
A hydro-fracking tower. (Photo: The Innovation Trail.)

Financial expert criticizes economics of shale gas exploration

Drilling companies have been criticizing New York for delaying permits to drill for gas in the state's underground shale formations. The Department of Environmental Conservation says it is still considering regulations, and might not issue permits until 2013.

Deborah Rogers is glad New York is asking questions before allowing this type of drilling. Rogers has become a leading critic of the economics of shale gas exploration. She's an advisor to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Texas. Rogers spoke Tuesday night at Clarkson University, and earlier in the day with Julie Grant.  Go to full article

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