Train travel and the use of railways for transporting supplies have been under scrutiny for quite a while because of the amount of pollutants and greenhouse gases the system emits. Now, there is room for even more attention since the railway transportation of crude oil has gone from just over five thousand in 2007 to nearly 234,000 car-loads in current times.
The dangers of shipping oil across the country in rail cars was brought to light Friday morning in what some people are saying was one of the most dramatic derailments of an oil car in the U.S. Not only did this oil train derail, it exploded as well, leaking an unknown amount of oil into the Alabama environment. A 90-car crude oil train derailed and exploded in Alabama, shooting flames up to 300 feet into the sky. Authorities say that no one was hurt and the oil did not spill into any residential areas. The train, left to burn out on its own, was transporting oil from Armory, Mississippi, to a refinery in Florida.
This is not the first oil train accident reported this year. A train carrying oil derailed and exploded in Quebec, killing over forty people, just this last July. In an interview with Reuters, Elena McGovern, a Global Energy and Natural Resources analyst for Eurasia Group, commented on this ever-growing issue saying:
[The accident] will provide very clear evidence of the potential risks for environmental groups and other opposed to the growth of crude by rail, and will likely increase pressure to tighten regulations.
Though pressure for regulation is what we need for instances such as oil transfer through railways, opponents of the Keystone Pipeline are looking into this type of transport in order to supplement the pipeline going to the coast. If this supplement is used, and regulations stay as loose as they are, it is safe to say we could be looking at more than just two explosions per year. A danger now being protested by pipeline protestors and climate control advocates.
The fires in Alabama are still burning and are expected to extinguish within 24 to 48 hours.
Featured image source ABC 3340