Crude Oil on the Rails

Two days after a train carrying highly volatile crude oil derailed, shooting fireballs into the sky and sending an oil-filled car into the Kanawha River, flames remained burning in West Virginia. And now, questions are burning too: are these trains coming through our neighborhoods?

Dangerous oil trains barrel down tracks through numerous communities in Pennsylvania, carrying extremely volatile crude oil from the Bakken Shale — just watch the video from West Virginia’s explosion. Hundreds of thousands live inside the evacuation zone for these trains, yet our local governments and first responders too often do not know when these trains travel through our communities, leaving them unable to prepare for the worst. When leaks, crashes, or derailments occur, not even the walls of people’s homes are guaranteed to keep them safe from fiery explosions.

Last year alone, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia saw their own oil train accidents. Luckily these incidents weren’t disasters on the same scale as the one this week, but a number of Pennsylvania communities could be the next West Virginia. Before a Pennsylvania neighborhood goes up in flames, our elected officials should ban oil trains until critical safety standards can ensure the end to destructive accidents like this one.

Alaina Gercak
PennEnvironment Campaign Organizer
1420 Walnut Street, Suite 650
Philadelphia, PA 19102

PennEnvironment is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy group with over 100,000 supporters across Pennsylvania.