Illinois Derailment Makes Bomb-train Risk Clear for Land of Lincoln

CHICAGO (March 6, 2015) – A train containing 103 cars full of oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota derailed yesterday near Galena, IL along the Mississippi River.

Following is reaction from Henry Henderson, Midwest Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council and former Commissioner of the Environment for the City of Chicago:

“The fiery mess in Galena is one more wake up call for Americans. It should have particular reverberations for Chicago—the nation’s rail hub—underscoring that we have to get a grip on the looming threat of oil trains moving through our communities.

"The derailed train in Illinois was likely on its way to Chicago, where it would have been just one of the 40-plus potential oil train disasters snaking through town every week. We have seen these trains idling, switching and moving through the South Loop and near South Side on a daily basis, near parks, schools and through dense communities. The threat must be addressed. Immediately.

“Every time we see one of these oil train infernos, industry voices call for “more pipelines!”…like Keystone XL. That reflects a cynical, false choice. The oil industry is not looking for either more pipelines OR larger oil trains; they are looking for more of both. The oil producers in the Bakken, the source of the oil from the derailed train, have shown little interest in building pipelines in recent years. Multiple major proposals for new pipelines in the Dakotas have failed to come to be due to a lack of interest from producers.

“If we want to address the danger of these derailment disasters and protect our communities, let’s address our aging freight  infrastructure and the safety needs of the trains themselves; rather than pushing for disruptive projects like Keystone XL, which would do nothing to limit the risk of increasing Bakken oil train shipments. The freight infrastructure needs to be modernized for a flexible, reliable 21st Century rail system, and the trains need to be shorter and slower and safer. These efforts would produce good, solid jobs, and improve the safety of our communities.

“If we are serious about reducing the risk of moving oil through our communities—we need to focus on using a lot less of it.”

More information on these issues is available on NRDC’s Switchboard blog.


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