EVERETT, WA: Five local residents have stopped work at a Burlington Northern Santa-Fe Rail Yard in Everett by erecting a tripod structure on the outbound railroad tracks, directly in front of both a mile-long oil train and a coal train. Seattle resident Abby Brockway – a small business owner and mother – is suspended from the structure 18 feet above the tracks while four other residents are locked to the legs of the tripod. The group is demanding an immediate halt to all shipments of fossil fuels through the Northwest and calling on Governor Inslee to reject permits for all new fossil fuel projects in Washington, including proposed coal and oil terminals.
“People in the Pacific Northwest are forming a thin green line that will keep oil, coal and gas in the ground,” said Brockway, “Just one of these proposed terminals would process enough carbon to push us past the global warming tipping point – we won’t let that happen.”
Today’s protest has shut down work at BNSF’s Delta Rail Yard in Everett. With the increase of fossil fuel transport in recent years the yard has become a crucial staging ground for coal trains headed to Canadian export terminals and oil trains bound for Washington refineries. An oil train carrying explosive bakken crude oil sat stalled while the protest continued.
“Exploding oil trains running through my town are just a reminder of how out of control the fossil fuel industry really is,” said Jackie Minchew an Everett resident and retired educator locked to one of the tripod’s poles.
By Balazs Koranyi and Joachim Dagenborg Wed Aug 27, 2014
* Oil discoveries hit new lows in 2013, 2014
* Oil firms cutting spending, including exploration
* Spending cut could hit oil price with a lag
* Costs soar, making many project unviable
By Balazs Koranyi and Joachim Dagenborg
STAVANGER, Norway, Aug 27 (Reuters) – The rate of oil discoveries continues to disappoint after a record low last year and firms could even cut their exploration budgets to save on costs, a risk to long-term supplies and prices, industry executives said.
Explorers are finding so little oil, many are retreating from high-risk frontier areas to safer bets like North American shale, executives at a major Norway oil conference said. This will likely force them to buy expensive discoveries once investor sentiment shifts focus to reserves from cash flow.
“If you look back on 2013, it was a record low year in terms of discovering new resources,” Helge Lund, the CEO of Norway’s Statoil, said. “And year to date it’s been around 4.4 billion barrels of oil equivalents, the lowest I have seen for decades.” Continue reading
By Ashley Halsey III August 23 a
They would be college graduates now, poised on the brink of life, had not a train gone off the tracks two years ago in a tragic fateful moment that caught them where they should not have been.
After almost two years of investigation into a 2012 train derailment in Ellicott City, Md., the National Transportation Safety Board said a piece of rail near replacement age simply snapped under the weight of a half-mile-long train carrying 9,873 tons of coal toward the Baltimore docks.
Elizabeth Nass and Rose Mayr, both 19 and celebrating their imminent return to college, were sitting a few feet away on a trestle 20 feet above Main Street. They were buried beneath the spilling coal. Death transformed them into a parable for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and for the random cruelty of fate. The details played out on the airwaves and in print as far as Australia. Continue reading
By KIM MACKRAEL AND GRANT ROBERTSON The Globe and Mail Aug. 19 2014
A railway with a “weak safety culture” and a federal regulator that was asleep at the switch combined to bring about the worst accident in modern Canadian history, says a report by the Transportation Safety Board.
The agency’s investigation into the rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Que., last summer – which killed 47 people when a train loaded with crude oil derailed and exploded in the centre of town – places considerable blame on the railway, Montreal Maine & Atlantic, for failing to operate safely.
But the findings also take aim at Transport Canada for failing to recognize the railway had safety problems, and for not ensuring MM&A was following the government’s own safety rules.
In its criticism of the federal government, the watchdog agency investigating the crash referred to Transport Canada as “a regulator that did not audit” the safety procedures it required the railway to follow. Transport Canada didn’t do enough inspections and “they didn’t assess the risks properly,” including looking into a company that the government knew had a problematic safety record
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“…each tank car of crude holds the energy equivalent of two million sticks of dynamite or the fuel in a wide body jetliner.”
By Russell Gold and Betsy Morris Wall Street Journal May 22, 2014
Emergency responders in Cincinnati know that trains full of crude oil have been rumbling through their city; they can see mile-long chains of black tank cars clacking across bridges over the Ohio River.
But they don’t know enough to feel prepared for the kinds of fiery accidents that have occurred over the last 10 months after oil-train derailments. How many of the 100 trains that pass through residential neighborhoods and warehouse districts daily are carrying oil, for example? And when crude is carried, is it the kind that federal investigators have linked to explosions?
“We have no idea when trains are moving through and when they aren’t,” said Thomas Lakamp, special operations chief for the Cincinnati Fire Department. “The railroads aren’t required to report to us.” Continue reading