Monday, August 25, 2014

Up to 33 trains carrying over a million gallons of oil traverse Arkansas each week

Posted By on Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 12:54 PM

An AP story over the weekend filled in some crucial numbers on the volume of highly flammable oil transported across Arkansas by railroad:  up to 33 trains per week that use Arkansas rail lines are carrying crude originating in the Bakken shale formation in the Dakotas, according to correspondence between rail operators and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) that was obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by the AP. Crude from the Bakken formation is exceptionally flammable due to its chemical composition, say regulators.

An average oil-bearing train is loaded up with over a million gallons of petroleum — the 2013 Mayflower oil spill was an estimated 210,000 gallons, by way of reference — and all but one is operated by Union Pacific:

Union Pacific expected to have 13-15 Bakken oil trains in eastern Arkansas and 3-5 in the Arkansas River Valley weekly, the letters show. It also temporarily routed 10-12 trains weekly through southern Arkansas to bypass track work in Louisiana. BNSF reported in a letter it had one train using tracks in northeastern Arkansas.

The letters indicate that three to five oil-bearing trains pass through Mayflower each week — and thus also through Conway and Little Rock. Most of the oil transported by rail through Arkansas passes through UP lines in Pine Bluff.

click to enlarge NIGHTMARE SCENARIO: The oil fire that killed 47 people in Quebec in 2013 prompted new scrutiny of rail tanker cars. - SÛRETÉ DU QUÉBEC
  • SÛRETÉ DU QUÉBEC
  • NIGHTMARE SCENARIO: The oil fire that killed 47 people in Quebec in 2013 prompted new scrutiny of rail tanker cars.
Rail companies have kept a tight lid on such details, saying the information is proprietary and citing national security concerns. When Leslie Newell Peacock reported on this story for the Arkansas Times in February, the numbers were unavailable — but in May, after a series of high profile disasters featuring tanker cars full of oil, the Obama administration began requiring rail companies to share information with state emergency readiness agencies to better prepare for accidents. New federal regulations that will set higher safety standards for oil tanker cars are pending. 

Although rail companies have reluctantly shared information with state emergency agencies like ADEM, they've asked states to agree not to share the information with the public, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Some states have refused; others, such as Arkansas, have agreed to sign nondisclosure agreements. But whatever ADEM signed, it's evidently not FOIA-proof.

Interest in the safety of Arkansas railroads has been renewed following an August 17th Union Pacific train collision near Hoxie that killed two rail workers and injured two others. That train was not carrying oil, but one ruptured car that was carrying alcohol did cause a fire, forcing the evacuation of some 500 nearby residents. Imagine what damage a dozen cars full of Bakken crude would have wrought.

*Note: I've changed the title on this post to be more accurate. It was originally titled "Up to 33 million gallons of oil traverse Arkansas by train each week", but that amount could be higher based on the volume of oil carried by some trains.  H/t blog commenter Sound Policy.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Benjamin Hardy

Readers also liked…

  • Matt Campbell files ethics complaint against Dennis Milligan

    Little Rock attorney and blogger Matt Campbell, whose knack for deep research brought down Mark Darr, Mike Maggio and Dexter Suggs, now has his sights trained on another worthy target. Today, he filed a 113-page ethics complaint against state Treasurer Dennis Milligan that includes 14 separate allegations.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • AHTD asks Metroplan to lift six-lane freeway cap

    The board of directors of Metroplan has informed the state highway department that it cannot act on the highway department's June 17 request to lift its six-lane freeway cap at the board's June 29 meeting. Consideration of the request should take four months, Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher wrote June 22 to highway department Director Scott Bennett.
    • Jun 23, 2016
  • The plight of the refugees: Dark episodes in Arkansas

    Ernest Dumas reaches into history, some personal, for moments in Arkansas's view of refugees. It was brought to mind by the current crisis in Europe and the political divisions over whether the U.S. should respond to the needs of the displaced.
    • Sep 22, 2015

Most Shared

  • Architecture lecture: Sheila Kennedy on "soft" design

    Sheila Kennedy, a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd., will give the June Freeman lecture tonight at the Arkansas Arts Center, part of the Architecture + Design Network series at the Arkansas Arts Center.
  • Petition calls for Jason Rapert Sewage Tanks in Conway

    A tribute is proposed for Conway's state senator Jason Rapert: naming the city's sewage sludge tanks for him. Petitioners see a similarity.
  • Health agency socked with big verdict, Sen. Hutchinson faulted for legal work

    A former mental health agency director has won a default judgment worth $358,000 over a claim for unpaid retirement pay and Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson is apparently to blame for failure to respond to pleadings in the case.
  • Religious right group calls for compromise on damage lawsuit amendment

    The Family Council, the religious right political lobby, has issued a statement urging its followers to oppose the so-called tort reform amendment to limit attorney fees and awards in damage lawsuits.
  • Constituents go Cotton pickin' at Springdale town hall

    Sen. Tom Cotton, cordial to a fault, appeared before a capacity crowd at the 2,200 seat Pat Walker Performing Arts Center at Springdale High tonight to a mixed chorus of clapping and boos. Other than polite applause when he introduced his mom and dad and a still moment as he led the crowd in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance — his night didn't get much better from there.

Visit Arkansas

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation