oil

A new report by public safety agencies highlights several weaknesses in Seattle's ability to respond to an oil train accident.

The report to the Seattle City Council was complied by the Seattle Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Management.

At the top of the report's list of concerns: the 100 year old tunnel that runs through the middle of downtown Seattle. The report said that the lack of safety systems in the Great Northern tunnel will present significant challenges to first responders.

As more oil trains travel along the Columbia River and Puget Sound, conservation groups worry that cleanup plans could harm sensitive wildlife, like endangered salmon and shorebirds.

Oregon Approves Subsidies For Oil Transport, Not For Coal

Aug 25, 2014

The Oregon Transportation Commission voted Friday to approve nearly $5 million in subsidies for rail and dock infrastructure tied to controversial coal export and oil-by-rail projects.

PORTLAND -- Three oil trains roll through the city each week en route to a shipping terminal down the Columbia River near Clatskanie, Oregon.

If one of them were to derail, Portland firefighters say they're not equipped for a major spill, fire, or explosion along the lines of last year's Lac-Megantic explosion in Quebec, Canada.

Portland Fire and Rescue Lt. Dave Keller says the city's fire department could only adequately respond to a smaller-scale derailment -- maybe one car leaking fuel or one car on fire.

5 Safety Concerns With Shipping Oil By Water

Aug 1, 2014

While many Northwest communities are focused on the safety risks of shipping crude oil by rail, a new report raises safety concerns about another shipping method: oil by water.

Across the country, more and more domestically produced oil is being shipped by barges and tankers as pipelines fill up to capacity. The report, by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, concludes: "This rather sudden shift in transportation patterns raises concerns about the safety and efficiency of oil tankers and barges."

KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Three tanker cars in an oil train from North Dakota derailed at a rail yard in Seattle early Thursday, but BNSF Railway says none of the oil spilled.

Ross Reynolds talks with Dave Fehling, energy and environment reporter for StateImpact Texas, an NPR reporting project, about oil refinery accidents and what happens when they're criminally prosecuted.

EarthFix Photo/Tony Schick

Curtis Rookaird thinks BNSF Railway fired him because he took the time to test his train’s brakes.

The rail yard in Blaine, Washington, was on heightened security that day, he remembers, because of the 2010 Winter Olympics underway just across border in Vancouver, B.C.

KUOW/John Ryan photo

In the months following a deadly refinery explosion in Anacortes, Washington, in April 2010, federal investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board were ready to issue urgent safety recommendations. But management at the agency blocked the release of their urgent alert.

Flickr Photo/Russ Allison Loar

The Northwest’s two main freight rail operators are complying with a federal requirement to inform states about the North Dakota crude oil they’re hauling, but they want the states to keep the public from finding out by signing non-disclosure agreements.

BNSF Railway said Friday it will comply with Saturday's federal deadline to provide states with information about the frequency and routes of oil trains from North Dakota and Montana.

For seven years, Central Oregon has been without a state hazardous materials team.

It means that in the event of an oil train spill in Deschutes County, the closest team assigned to the area comes from Salem, roughly two and half to three hours away.

Chemical Safety Board

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is calling for 60 improvements in the design, operation and regulation of the Tesoro oil refinery in Anacortes and of refineries nationwide.

The weather is warming and vacation season approaching.

And, just as predictably, the price of gasoline is rising. It does that every spring as refineries switch to more expensive summer blends.

But this year, the seasonal price bump is getting an extra bounce. Gasoline is costing consumers about 5 percent more than last year at this time, even though oil supplies are abundant. Why?

Experts say U.S. retail prices are nudging higher in large part because Gulf Coast refineries are sending more gasoline to other countries.

EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

HOQUIAM, Wash. — More than 100 people gathered at the local high school Thursday night with questions and concerns about proposals to build train-to-ship oil terminals in their community.

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