Baltimore Should Take Note of Risks and Protect Residents From Crude Oil Trains
Today, jurors acquitted the three rail workers who were scapegoated for the 2013 crude oil train disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. That derailment, which killed 47 people and decimated the small town, was the worst crude oil train wreck in history.
Taylor Smith-Hams, Healthy Communities Campaign Organizer at the CCAN Action Fund, stated:
“The Transportation Safety Board report on the derailment made clear that lax regulations and unsafe railroad management policies led to the tragedy in Lac-Megantic. Despite this conclusion, three railroad workers were blamed, charged with criminal negligence, and faced life in prison if convicted.
“By acquitting the three scapegoated workers, the jury recognized that this derailment was the fault of reckless policies and a lack of regulatory oversight, not negligence on the part of workers who were simply following company protocol. We applaud the jury for making the right choice.
“Now, work continues to get meaningful accountability for the derailment victims and systemic policy changes to ensure that no community suffers a similar tragedy. We will continue our work to prevent a crude oil train disaster in Baltimore by passing the Crude Oil Terminal Prohibition through the City Council.”
Crude-by-rail transit skyrocketed in the wake of the fracking boom in the Bakken shale in North Dakota and tar sands extraction in Canada over the past decade. An alarming number of derailments, explosions, and spills has followed. The tragedy in Lac-Megantic heightened awareness of the dangers of crude-by-rail transit across North America.
We have been working for over three years to protect Baltimore from crude oil trains. In 2015, we worked to successfully stop a new crude oil terminal from coming online, preventing an additional 380 millions gallons of crude oil from traveling along the city’s rail lines. In October 2017, the Baltimore City Council introduced a zoning code change to ban the construction of new crude oil terminals, which would reduce the market demand for crude oil trains and protect all rail-line communities in Maryland from an increase in crude-by-rail shipments. A hearing for that bill has been scheduled for February 21, 2018 in front of the City’s Land Use & Transportation Committee.