When we think of bombs we are likely to think of terrorism such as the Boston Marathon bombings or the Oklahoma City blasts 20 years ago this week, but American towns and cities face another threat that is nothing to do with terrorism.
In a recent video, the New York Times, highlighted a danger in small towns across the United States which are “hosting an increasingly common phenomenon,” – namely long trains comprised of of 100-plus black cylindrical cars, rolling slowly past homes, schools and hospitals.
They carry highly flammable crude oil from the shale fields around North Dakota or West Virginia. I have written on a number of occasions about how weaknesses in these tank cars mean they are an accident waiting to happen. In fact, the accident has already happened. In 2013, a runaway train killed 47 people in a small Canadian village.
Few people who see them know what they carry: highly flammable crude oil from the shale fields around North Dakota and in West Virginia.
The writer of the article who lives in the Hudson Valley sees these massive trains on a daily basis because Albany is a major railroad hub. These trains also travel to Hampton Roads and Yorktown in Virginia. Every day as many as 400,000 barrels of explosive crude oil, is transported around the East Coast.
The New York Times video highlighted how these trains can be very dangerous, prompting some to call them “bomb trains.” There have already been terrible railway accidents in North America caused when these trains derail, some of them fatal.
Many of the accidents were blamed on DOT-111 tank cars which fracture easily in the case of a crash. The government has since improved the strength of its tank cars but it remains to be seen if enough has been done.
Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported on how the new workhorses of the railroad – called CPC-1232 tank cars have been involved in a string of recent accidents and have not fared well.
New regulations are expected in May from the United States Department of Transportation, but environmentalists are reported to be not hopeful for much change — given the “powerful lobbying efforts of the oil and rail industries.”
Already in 2015 there have been four serious derailments, resulting in oil spills, explosions and fires. Last year there was a massive derailment and explosion in Lynchburg, Virginia. Safety and Homeland Security officials have even described these “rolling bombs” as potential terrorist weapons. The Department of Transportation predicts 15 major accidents in the United States this year alone.
This is a grim scenario for communities close to the railroad and workers on the trains. If you have been hurt in a railroad accident, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers for a free consultation at 866-455-6657.