Luck Rides The Rails: Another Near Miss with an "Insane" Bakken Oil Bomb Train

Luck was in abundance on Friday in Mosier, Oregon where the latest Bakken oil train derailed and erupted into flames near a 50-home residential area and a school. 

As Mosier Fire Chief Jim Appleton said, “Mosier really dodged a bullet in the last 24 hours.”

“I hope that this becomes death knell for this mode of shipping this cargo. I think it’s insane,” Appleton said. “I’ve been very hesitant to take a side up to now, but with this incident, and with all due respect to the wonderful people that I’ve met at Union Pacific, shareholder value doesn’t outweigh the lives and happiness of our community.”

It's a familiar story to those following the Bakken oil “bomb train” saga — luck.

If I had been there another second, it’d probably have killed me,” Bounds said. “Glass was flying everywhere behind me. The walls were caving in. I hadn’t run like that in years.”

That was Morris Bounds describing to The Spokesman Review how he barely escaped the derailing Bakken oil train that destroyed his home in Mount Carbon, West Virginia in February 2015. He literally saw the train derailing and ran out his front door as the train wiped out his house behind him. 

You don’t get much luckier than Morris Bounds. Or his wife, who happened to be in the hospital that day instead of at home. 

Later that year when another Bakken oil train derailed in a residential neighborhood in Watertown, Wisconsin but did not ignite, Sarah Feinberg, the head of the Federal Railroad Administration, declared, “We feel we got really lucky.”  

New Federal Report Shows Dimock Water Unsafe

Back in 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a startling announcement, shaking up the battle over fracking in one of the nation's highest-profile cases where drillers were suspected to have caused water contamination.

Water testing results were in for homeowners along Carter Road in Dimock, PA, where for years, homeowners reported their water had turned brown, became flammable, or started clogging their well with “black greasy feeling sediment” after Cabot Oil and Gas began drilling in the area. The EPA seemed to conclude the water wasn't so bad after all.

 “The sampling and an evaluation of the particular circumstances at each home did not indicate levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action,” EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin said in a press release.

The drilling industry crowed. “The data released today once again confirms the EPA's and DEP's findings that levels of contaminants found do not possess a threat to human health and the environment,” Cabot said in a statement.

It’s obviously very good news for the folks who actually live there, and pretty squarely in line with what we’ve known up there for a while now,” Energy in Depth told POLITICOPro. “It’s not very good news for the out-of-state folks who have sought to use Dimock as a talking point in their efforts to prevent development elsewhere, but I’m sure they’ll be working hard over the weekend to spin it differently, notwithstanding the pretty clear statement made by EPA today.”

Now, a newly published report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), puts EPA's testing results into an entirely new light.

IOGCC Representatives Spout Climate Denial at ExxonMobil-Funded Meeting

At the opening session of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)'s recent annual business meeting held in Denver, Colorado, the commission's Nebraska state representative Bill Sydow was closing up at the horseshoe-shaped roundtable by making a few heads turn. 

“I spent Thanksgiving in Chicago with my daughter and her two friends and I'm talking about climate change and global warming and I'm not a skeptic, I'm a denier” stated Sydow, the director of Nebraska's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, flanked by dozens of IOGCC state representatives at the mid-May meeting.

“And so I'm talking to these two kids and they're like 'What are you talking about?' They have never heard another side to the issue.”

What is going on with India's record-breaking hot weather?

By Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, UNSW Australia; Andrew King, University of Melbourne, and Geert Jan van Oldenborgh

On May 19, India’s all-time temperature record was smashed in the northern city of Phalodi in the state of Rajasthan. Temperatures soared to 51℃, beating the previous record set in 1956 by 0.4℃.

India is known for its unbearable conditions at this time of year, just before the monsoon takes hold. Temperatures in the high 30s are routine, with local authorities declaring heatwave conditions only once thermometers reach a stifling 45℃. But the record comes on the back of an exceptionally hot season, with several heatwaves earlier in the year. So what’s to blame for these scorching conditions?

Why There Could Be More Blasts Like 2015 ExxonMobil Torrance Oil Refinery Explosion, Putting Millions At Risk

On the morning of February 18, 2015, the ExxonMobil oil refinery in Torrance, California exploded, causing chemical ash to rain on the surrounding community for hours. Eight workers had to be decontaminated and four were sent to hospitals with minor injuries.

California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) ordered ExxonMobil to shut down the unit until it could demonstrate safe operation.

In August, Cal/OSHA issued 19 citations for workplace safety and health violations at the Torrance refinery. The company was fined $566,600 in penalties in connection with the blast.

The explosion resulted in the costliest disruption at a California refinery in the past 16 years, with motorists paying at least $2.4 billion in higher pump prices in the following six months.

After spending around $162 million to repair the damaged equipment and upgrade the other equipment, it was given the green light to restart operations from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) in April.

With new evidence that the explosion could have been much worse, and that other aging refineries around the country are also at risk, scientists, industry watchdogs and a few lawmakers are sounding an alarm.

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