Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bombs away

Last night, cops apparently closed down my neighborhood while inspecting something they thought might be a bomb. It wasn't. I slept through the episode.

But apparently, in our national eagerness for oil and oil commerce, we're allowing the whole East Bay to become a blast zone, crisscrossed by rail lines carrying crude oil in aging tank cars not built for the task.

Oil trains are more than a mile-long with 100+ cars, concentrating the risk of an accident that could ignite the three million gallons of crude on a single train.

Oil train traffic has increased more than 4,000 percent in the last five years. Rail routes run right through major urban areas and cross water supplies.

The US rail system was not designed to transport dangerous crude oil.

Dangerous DOT-111 cars, which make up the majority of US oil tanker trains, have serious flaws that make them highly prone to puncture during a derailment.

The crude oil carried by train is more explosive and more toxic than conventional crude oil; it is also more carbon intensive. At a time when our oil use is decreasing and the threat of climate disruption is growing, the risk from oil trains is unacceptable.

There's a petition against this. It is probably worth signing as a prelude to warding off one more hazard created by one more careless, greedy industry.


Brandon said...

Have we reached peak oil yet? Are we past the peak and going down the hill? It seems as if we're in a new age of oil abundance, but it's illusory, given the costs of extracting oil from shale and tar sands. Not to mention fracking, which is another, but related story. As oil becomes scarcer, you'll see more dirty and dangerous petroleum-extractive activity.

janinsanfran said...

The concept of "peak oil" means that humans have extracted more than half the oil that the planet ever made -- and consequently, oil will become more and more expensive until/unless we start using other sources of energy.

Obviously the oil companies have found ways to extract more than estimates in the 00s -- and if we have reached peak oil, their incentives only increase.

None of this does the planet any good and yes, the energy required to extract can exceed the quantity retrieved ... That's the cost variable they try to alter with oil sands and fracked supply.