Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published May 12, 2014 at 5:01 PM | Page modified May 12, 2014 at 5:29 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Editorial: Pass safety laws for oil trains

Washington lawmakers are helping push federal regulators to produce credible safety standards for the growing crude-by-rail industry.


Seattle Times Editorial

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
The federal government, along with every State, County, City and Tribe, not to mention every environmental agency and... MORE
@Books 45 How did you know they were oil trains? Did you check the side placard? Maybe Methanol, HCL, or , god forbid,... MORE
"Washington residents are spooked by the prospects of more and more oil trains moving through their communities." ... MORE

advertising

THESE are boom times indeed for hauling oil by rail. The trains are derailing, catching fire, spilling oil and blowing up with alarming regularity.

Most recently in Lynchburg, Va., some 15 tank cars derailed, plunged into the James River, caught fire and dumped their cargo.

The news is all the more alarming for Washington communities where crude-by-rail proposals are being debated, and cities and towns across the state would see a dramatic increase in oil-tank-car traffic.

Concerned citizens recently turned out in Skagit County and Centralia to make their worst fears known about the potential for accidents in their communities.

Two key points are in play. One is to make sure local public-safety agencies have knowledge of the rail traffic, so they can plan accordingly. The 2014 Legislature failed to use its voice to tell the industry and federal regulators the information was needed.

The Lynchburg accident might have made a difference. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has been pressing the U.S. Department of Transportation for mandatory rules on crude-by-rail safety.

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced an emergency order requiring railroads to identify routes on which trains hauling more than 1 million gallons of Bakken crude are traveling, and to notify state safety officials.

That is a start, but the other lingering issue is the safety of the tank cars. Cantwell noted the National Transportation Safety Board has raised concerns about the DOT-111, an older model tank rail car, since 1991.

Oil shippers have signed on to a voluntary effort to upgrade the tank cars. Voluntary efforts are no answer. Last week, the entire Washington congressional delegation signed a letter written by U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, asking the Office of Management and Budget to issue strong regulatory standards as quickly as possible.

Washington residents are spooked by the prospects of more and more oil trains moving through their communities. Rightfully so.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

Autos news and research

The 5 top debuts at the L.A. Auto Show

The 5 top debuts at the L.A. Auto Show


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►