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Explosive Crude By Rail
August 19, 2014 5:40 PM   Subscribe

Do you or your family live, work, or go to school within the potential blast radius of the next Lac-Mégantic?
posted by 256 (67 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just in case anyone needs context, 47 people died last year when a train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada.

The results of the official investigation into the accident were released today, finding that safety and oversight of oil transported by rail is still severely lacking, despite changes made in the aftermath of the disaster.
posted by 256 at 5:47 PM on August 19 [4 favorites]


Does your family travel on roads where crude is transported? Or are you near the 2.5 million miles of pipeline in the US (as of 2012)? Or maybe near a waterway where oil is moved by barge?

There are inherent dangers with transporting flammable goods, and a number of ways to rank dangers associated with such transportation (casualties, damage to habitat, water pollution, CO2 emissions, etc.). That Forbes article is pretty thorough, in terms of the broad scope of what could go wrong, and how, and how much has moved without incident or public attention.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:52 PM on August 19 [2 favorites]


Whew, 120 meters outside the danger zones. I may have to adjust my dog walking route.

This is one of the things that has been pissing me off about the debate over Northern Gateway here in BC. Stopping the pipeline doesn't mean oil stops being exported. It means it travels instead by pretty well worse in every way rail instead of pipeline. And practically no one is aware of the issues because trains have been going right through downtown for 100+ years. So long they have just faded into the background.
posted by Mitheral at 5:56 PM on August 19 [6 favorites]


Nope, I live on the wrong side of the Bay for this, so.....yay the tracks run along the Hayward fault instead of the San Andreas? My street does have one of those giant gas lines, though, like what PGE used to blow up San Bruno, just a few miles south.
posted by rtha at 6:01 PM on August 19


Personally, I don't live or work in the blast radius, but my daughter's elementary school is in the red zone. Given the choice, my first preference would be that we curb our demand for oil dramatically. If that's not practical (and let's be serious), I'd rather have it going through my neighbourhood by pipeline than by rail.
posted by 256 at 6:07 PM on August 19


Oh, yeah- I totally do. I try not to think about it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:07 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


The rail line in my area runs within yards of the James River, but that's old news. Just in case explosive destruction isn't in the cards in the- event an(other) incident occurs, we're still assured that we'll have horrific water pollution no matter what.
posted by Appropriate Username at 6:07 PM on August 19


We do not need the extreme oil transported by these trains. The crude oil carried by train is more explosive and more toxic than conventional crude oil; it is also more carbon intensive.

Transporting oil by train is really not so great compared to pipelines it's true, even if judging all rail transport by the extraordinary disaster at Lac-Mégantic is also a bad idea, but something about this is making me wonder if it's meant as some kind of parody.
posted by sfenders at 6:12 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


Stay classy, Edmonton.
posted by Yowser at 6:12 PM on August 19 [3 favorites]


Not surprising that I'd be right in the middle of the blast radius, the trains run pretty much constantly along the four tracks that run a block from the house. I can hear one right now as I type this.
posted by octothorpe at 6:16 PM on August 19


So I just checked myself and it looks like I'm a few blocks outside the blast radius. Then I noticed that it was basing that on the railroad tracks a ways North of me, not the much closer rails to the South. Assuming blast radii for all railway lines are the same size, I'm definitely within the radius of rails to the south.

Can I get a text message when there's a train coming so I can put my bike helmet on?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:20 PM on August 19


Huh, I live in the weird pocket of Pittsburgh that's surrounded by the impact zones yet remains unaffected. I think the hillsides will do more to protect me than vicinity anyways, save for noxious fumes.
posted by Turkey Glue at 6:21 PM on August 19 [4 favorites]


So how does building height play into this. I'm in a highrise, but not that high up. It seems like high-rise buildings should be better built to withstand disaster than single-family homes. Is condo row along Toronto's rail lines safe?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:27 PM on August 19


Considering that most buildings are highly dependent on the structural integrity of the lower levels, I would say: short answer, no. Long answer, nooooooooooooope.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:31 PM on August 19 [4 favorites]


Not even with a two-story underground foundation?

I'm going to need a better bike helmet.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:33 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


The East Bay line splits to go around my house in downtown San Jose. I'm just beyond the little clear space, about half a block into the yellow. I had heard trains occasionally, but I didn't realize the working rail lines went that close (there's a lot of non-used ones around here).
posted by tavella at 6:39 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


penguin, it's very complicated and depends a lot on your zoning. High rises have very strong foundations because they are necessary to support the heights, true. And in areas with earthquake zoning the buildings will be additionally protected or reinforced so that the kind of shock an explosion delivers will probably be absorbed.

But in non-earthquake areas, high rises tend to be built on static principles. Wind loading is usally accounted for, but the ground tends to be assumed stable. So the designers may not have considered things like shock waves and soil liquefaction.

That said, the structural needs of supporting say a 10 story building are going to require a certain amount of heft not normally found in low-rise structures, so unless the actual explosion is within a few hundred feet of your building it seems unlikely to me to do much more than blow out all the windows. The pre-911 WTC truck bombers blew a truckload of ANFO as close as they could manage to the most critical support they could identify, and all it did was fuck up everyone's day.
posted by localroger at 6:41 PM on August 19


340 feet from the tracks. And the tracks are sunk down (so next to the foundation, not above it). So yeah, I'm going to get a motorcycle helmet instead. I have no doubt that will work and the I can go about my life in blissful denial.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:51 PM on August 19


Joy, I live in a red zone.
posted by Pudhoho at 6:51 PM on August 19


I honestly thought it was a parody of what someone took to be environmentalist nonsense. But after some investigation I rate it slightly more likely than not that these extreme exploding oil train guys are sincere, even though the Forestethics page on Wikipedia was created on April 1st of last year. To take one of their more weird statements: By "extreme oil" it seems they probably mean what most people would call light sweet crude oil. Contrasting it with "traditional" oil seems to come from here. While oil has always come in light and heavy kinds with a wide variation of specific gravity, I guess it was more traditional in the US to transport heavier crude by train in post-1970 and pre-Bakken years.

How their plan to "reroute trains around population centers and away from water supplies" might work is still a mystery.
posted by sfenders at 7:07 PM on August 19


Live in Calgary, but outside the blast radius unless I'm in the office, in which case... Oh dear.

The arguments against the pipeline are poor compared to the ongoing risk from the rail shipments.
posted by arcticseal at 7:08 PM on August 19


About half of my block is in the red, I live in the yellow. But I bike all the time right through the red and my favourite brewery is in the red. I won't want to live!
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:15 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


Tried a couple addresses, and it looks like the main rail corridor through my town is safe from explosive oil transports.

There are still the occasional tanker cars painted white and marked as carrying sulfuric acid or radioactive waste over the elevated rail bed through downtown, but that will have to wait for some other public information website.
posted by ardgedee at 7:18 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


How does the risk of being blown up in an oil train derailment compare to being blown up in a gasoline tanker-truck crash? There are a heck of a lot more of them driving around, and they can go anywhere.

This seems suspiciously like a plane-crash phenomenon, where people are likely to fixate on something that is spectacular but very rare. It's an unfortunate cognitive bias, and I am very suspicious whenever I see someone playing blatantly towards it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:19 PM on August 19 [6 favorites]


Nearly the entire state of Iowa is a safe zone, so come on over. Except Sioux City. But you didn't want to go there anyway. (Just kidding, Sioux City! Still love your video! (YouTube link))
posted by epj at 7:19 PM on August 19


I think the key is not so much re-routing the trains, but more having appropriate safety regulations so that an exhausted driver doesn't go off to take a nap with no back-up and leave a train to roll down a hill into the middle of a community.


And maybe also not to let the railway companies actually write the safety regulations, Stephen.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:20 PM on August 19 [7 favorites]


The map for Edmonton is just... Wrong.

It still has rail running down the high level bridge into downtown, which hasn't been the case in decades. Honest, they ripped out the rail and put up condos.

That said, where I work is right in a confluence of CN rail lines routinely carrying oil, lpg, and industrial chemicals. It would be a legit hellscape if anything went wrong
posted by selenized at 7:21 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


Oil does not explode.
posted by lohmannn at 7:24 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


Seattle's I-5 lives right on the red zone. Pretty sure if both ways were blocked for that amount of time no one would ever go to work ever again. Or leave the house. Basically everything would be blocked forever and ever.
posted by hellojed at 7:26 PM on August 19 [3 favorites]


This is a call for NIMBY-ism, and pretty poorly done scaremongering at that. The map does not take into account the fact that most of the lines drawn do not have crude oil on them, heck, Raton NM only gets Amtrak anymore.

What happened on the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railroad had to do with lack of safety training and poor behavior at many levels. All the big railroads shown here also have 2 person crews, while the MM&A had a single person incorrectly safe his train and then improper training for emergency handling of a situation (engine fire).

You are still more likely to die on a road than a train, and you can only imagine how many tanker trucks would start carrying crude if they took it off the rails.

The railroads (and unions) have been dragging their feet for a long time on more automated signaling and control to help increase safety by reducing the dependance on a few hard working, road weary people.
posted by nickggully at 7:29 PM on August 19 [10 favorites]


The actual report is at:
http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/rail/2013/r13d0054/r13d0054.asp

The most pertinent part in my opinion:
Under 3.1 Findings as to causes and contributing factors, these are the first three items:

1. MMA-002 was parked unattended on the main line, on a descending grade, with the securement of the train reliant on a locomotive that was not in proper operating condition.

2. The 7 hand brakes that were applied to secure the train were insufficient to hold the train without the additional braking force provided by the locomotive’s independent brakes.

3. No proper hand brake effectiveness test was conducted to confirm that there was sufficient retarding force to prevent movement, and no additional physical safety defences were in place to prevent the uncontrolled movement of the train.
posted by nickggully at 7:34 PM on August 19 [5 favorites]


Can we pith CEOs of companies that flagrantly flaunt regulations and operate in the most skin-flint way possible, putting the lives of innocents at risk?

Asking for a friend.
posted by maxwelton at 7:41 PM on August 19 [2 favorites]


My old address in Toronto was absolutely in the red zone (50m from the railway lines above Dupont). My current place is several hundred metres from the tracks that run through downtown of my city, but I am sure nothing would ever go wrong on those lines.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:44 PM on August 19


I'm in the red.

Funny thing: The railway used to have a second line that ran just to the east of here, and that part is its own branch of red, even though it's been a good thirty years (or more?) since a train's been up that way. There are no tracks anywhere. It's a bike path now.

I wonder where they get their data on current-day train routes.
posted by mochapickle at 7:46 PM on August 19 [2 favorites]


Living in the center of the Bakken oil field and roughly a block from the tracks as the crow flies. We have at least THIRTY oil trains a day going through town and the next town down the rails gets even more. Tick..tick..tick
posted by Ber at 8:11 PM on August 19


One of the rail lines on my map is a little line on which no crude oil travels, and the other is the Amtrak line.
posted by Peach at 8:22 PM on August 19


Oil does not explode.

The oil that took out Lac-Mégantic probably contained hydrogen sulfide.


In July 2013 a Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway train carrying 74 cars of Bakken formation crude oil derailed and exploded in Lac Mégantic, Quebec; wiping out the center of the town and killing 47. The resulting conflagration and BLEVE explosions were so intense that pictures taken[8] from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite satellite during the disaster shows the small town emitting as much Infrared light as Québec city. The effect on such a massively large explosion and resulting Firestorm in the middle of a small village of 5,932 was akin to a World War Two Firebombing or a Nuclear explosion, the temperature in the blast area reaching up to 3,000 degrees Celsius.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:23 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


This is a call for NIMBY-ism, and pretty poorly done scaremongering at that.

Yep. It's odd that ForestEthics, which is ostensibly a granola-riffic anti-tarsands and anti-pipeline org, would back something like this. It really seems like the reaction they're going for with this site is, "Gee, maybe pipelines are the way to go after all! I'd better tell my congressperson!"

Wonder where their money comes from.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:27 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


Here in the Hammer, I'm well outside of the red blast zone for instant death, but inside the zone of the local carcinogenic cloud for lingering, painful death, so -- six of one, half a dozen of the other.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:02 PM on August 19


Hah, not more than a block from a red line. Fun times in Indiana.
posted by Ferreous at 9:08 PM on August 19


There have been two BLEVEs involving Bakken unit trains in the past year: the other was at Casselton, North Dakota. Luckily, that time, no one was killed.

There are many speculations right now as to why this oil is so dangerous in confinement, as listed above, but in my view, it's simply the high level of light ends in the crude. It's explosive for the same reason gasoline can be explosive. Low molecular weight hydrocarbons evaporate quickly, even boil at the temperature of a summer day. Dense vapor clouds are explosive.
posted by Anonymous 5$ Sockpuppet at 9:17 PM on August 19 [3 favorites]


Yay! Not living in a blast zone! I do however work directly in one...

Nah, nothing bad could happen at work.
posted by evilDoug at 9:27 PM on August 19


This is a call for NIMBY-ism, and pretty poorly done scaremongering at that.

absolutely.

Our way of life requires all manner of hazardous materials and processes. The notion of somehow getting rid of these hazards feels naive at best. If you actually look into the Lac-Megantic tragedy, you see a situation where as many as eighteen factors/failures contributed to the explosion (I read that figure somewhere) -- everything from the MMA's 'weak safety culture' to deregulation and sloppy administration of existing regulations.

Bottom line, it didn't happen because transporting dangerous cargo by rail is inherently (and inevitably) catastrophic any more than driving your car across town is; it happened because various people got greedy, got lazy, were incompetent.
posted by philip-random at 9:28 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


Well of course I do. What else would one expect from Republican representation.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 9:35 PM on August 19


Consider the alternative -- if not by rail then by road. The load units would be smaller but the hazards vastly greater. Railroad trains aren't battling cars driven by texters and somnambulists, and a lot fewer people live by rail lines than freeways these days.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:36 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


If such an event were to happen in my city, my home is safe by two and a half blocks. OTOH, a huge chunk of the city is in the red zone, and one of the world's leading space museums is in the yellow zone.
posted by bryon at 12:59 AM on August 20


Oil does not explode.

Light crude confined in rail cars can go up pretty spectacularly in Boiling-Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosions which is what happened in Lac-Mégantic.

Crude oil lying around in a puddle definitely doesn't explode though and heavier crudes are less likely to BLEVE.
posted by atrazine at 2:44 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


It doesn't matter whether your home or workplace or children's school is in danger; it is enough that many people's homes and workplaces and children's schools are in danger.

There should be better enforcement to make sure procedures are followed, the tank cars should be reinforced better, and trains should behave better and squeal on lax operators. In the specific case of Lac-Mégantic, the train itself -- the engines and individual cars -- should have individually and collectively decided that there was an emergency coming, called emergency services automatically long before anything bad happened, and refused to go anywhere without a driver. Runaway trains should not happen.

If doing something like that means such trains all need to be upgraded, then upgrade them. They're already talking about having to spend a billion dollars or so to upgrade all the current tank cars to meet proposed safety standards. Let them spend it. You don't need to feel sorry for the poor put-upon oil industry.
posted by pracowity at 3:17 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Yay, both home and office are inside the kill zone.
posted by indubitable at 4:29 AM on August 20


The alternative isn't road shipments, it's to accelerate our transition off oil and leave more of the bitumen safely underground. This needs to be done *otherwise our goose is cooked*.

But climate change gets no traction with the broader public, so campaigns on bitumen extraction always have to focus on the side impacts - spills, mercury, water waste. The Canadian regulators are happy to exploit this disinterest to make their regulatory reviews as narrow-scope as possible.

On a side note, I really ought to do another post about the financial bubble of over-valued carbon extraction companies.
posted by anthill at 4:53 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


It's not just crude oil: we've got a fuel & chemical "transfer station" about 140 yards from a pre-existing elementary school..... the railway company built the thing without any kind of notification or building permits or anything. When the city discovered what was going on, everybody from the city council to the statehouse fought against it, but the railway hid behind 'only the feds can regulate us!'
posted by easily confused at 5:54 AM on August 20


So how does building height play into this. I'm in a highrise, but not that high up.

Do you own a parachute?
posted by goethean at 6:25 AM on August 20


...people got greedy, got lazy, were incompetent.

Especially when the holding company who owned MMA specializes in this kind of cut-rate, "safety is too expensive", type of railroading.

I'm just saying we shouldn't be so surprised.
posted by sneebler at 7:21 AM on August 20


> San Jose... there's a lot of non-used ones around here

Which might have arsenic and other nasties in the soil, so don't use them as shortcuts until they've been remediated. The old UPRR line through Willow Glen was fixed a few years ago. Before that, there was no signage about the hazard.
posted by morganw at 8:13 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


It's not just crude oil: we've got a fuel & chemical "transfer station" about 140 yards from a pre-existing elementary school...

I assume you're talking about the ethanol transfer station in Alexandria. That one is on the City of Alexandria. I lived only a few hundred yards away while the whole brouhaha was going down. The rail yard was pre-existing, there long before the elementary school was even a mote in some planner's eye. They built the school without ever bothering to consider what goes on in a rail yard, or what could go on in a rail yard.

Even before they started doing the ethanol trans-shipment, you could have gone down to that rail line and watched car upon car of LPG, plasticizing chemicals, petcoke, oil, chlorine, coal dust, hot tar, and of course the mystery cars identified only by placards telling you that it's really flammable, go by. It was not a family-friendly sort of environment to begin with. And they built an elementary school next to it, anyway. (And also, incidentally, the new school is only a few hundred feet away from an asphalt plant, which I suspect over time probably is much worse to be next to than an ethanol transload facility, but plane-crash logic dictates get ignored in favor of the more spectacular risk.)

The city had — as most cities do in similar situations — two options: first, they could have tailored their development plans around the existing industry, rather than just ignoring it; two, they could have taken the rail yard by eminent domain, which is the accepted process for overriding one party's rights when there's a public interest in it. They would have been within their power, as a local municipality, to do that. It would have been expensive, of course, because industrial facilities are valuable. But if the elementary school was that important, they could have done it.

But they didn't do either. Instead, the City tried to have its cake and eat it too: building a school in an absurd location and then trying to regulate what the pre-existing industry could do around it, but without actually going through the expense of buying them out, or even offering them the net present value of the income stream provided by the facility, in return for idling it. I don't blame the railroad for telling them to go pound sand at that point.

It was, and continues to be ironic, that the mostly left-leaning NIMBY crowd got thoroughly behind what was essentially an anti-Federal-regulation argument that would have been right at home in a Tea Party meeting, the moment that Federal regulation suddenly became inconvenient. Federalism, when it comes to things like inter-state commerce, cuts both ways.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:58 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


> Consider the alternative -- if not by rail then by road

Well, that's not the only other option.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:29 AM on August 20


The article claims that the railroads are not designed to haul oil. I have to call BS on that, one of the reasons why we have such an extensive rail network is that Standard Oil initially used the railroads to transport all it's oil, and oil and its derivatives have always been a major rail transport item.
posted by Blackanvil at 10:02 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


47 people died, a number of them just plain vaporized by the blast. More were injured. The railroad went bankrupt. The train that exploded was in poor repair and, for cost-cutting, 1 operator. Conservatives talk about personal responsibility, perhaps corporations should have to post bonds for the potential damage they might do.
posted by theora55 at 10:10 AM on August 20


Bottom line, it didn't happen because transporting dangerous cargo by rail is inherently (and inevitably) catastrophic any more than driving your car across town is.

I always find this kind of argument strange because driving a car across town IS inherently and inevitably dangerous. I mean it's not inevitable that any given car will kill its occupants or others on any given trip, but it does seem inevitable that some of them do sometimes. Do people who make this argument not think about this every time they step into a car or ask someone to step into a car on their behalf? I do. I think about it especially when I drive, because it is an awe-some and not-to-be-taken lightly responsibility.

So if your point is "Why are you scared of railway explosions when you're not scared of cars." My response is "I am scared of cars. Of course I am. They're dangerous and terrifying. I mean not as dangerous and terrifying as streetcars and garbage trucks, but hardly something I'd call safe."

Yeah, I have a death issues, but if you're not scared of cars you have stats issues.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:10 AM on August 20


I always find this kind of argument strange because driving a car across town IS inherently and inevitably dangerous. I mean it's not inevitable that any given car will kill its occupants or others on any given trip, but it does seem inevitable that some of them do sometimes. Do people who make this argument not think about this every time they step into a car or ask someone to step into a car on their behalf? I do. I think about it especially when I drive, because it is an awe-some and not-to-be-taken lightly responsibility.

The last time I worked it out there was something like a 1 in 1000 chance that a licensed driver will be in an accident that required someone to get medical treatment. Per year. That was joy of being an insurance analyst.

That was also when I resolved to stick to my pre-existing economicly motivated decision to not drive.
posted by srboisvert at 10:32 AM on August 20


srboisvert By my calculations (=1-(0.999^(65-16))), if you drive from 16-65, that's about a 1/20 chance, which seems pretty damn high to me. Also, I'm guessing insurance tables are based on "be the driver or car owner in" such an accident and don't include passengers or others who are counted as an accident pertaining to the driver/car owner, since that's the insurance company that pays?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:42 AM on August 20


Those numbers included anyone in the claim. Pedestrian, other driver, passenger and so on. Also keep in mind that medical treatment doesn't necessarily mean you crushed someone and left them in a wheel chair. Even a simple moderate speed rear-ender will require medical treatment for whiplash almost every time.
posted by srboisvert at 11:10 AM on August 20


A 5\% lifetime-ish chance of being in a wreck that required hospitalization or surgery might seem high, but a 5\% chance of being in a wreck that required any medical treatment at all? That seems, if anything, low.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:12 AM on August 20


I got that it counted for the licensed driver an accident if anyone was injured (i.e. I"m a licensed driver, and my passenger is hurt, I get an accident counted), but I mean if there are 6 people involved in an accident (say 3 in one car, 2 in another and a cyclist). It counts an accident occurrence for each of them? So 6 accidents in the data and 6 licensed drivers if they all have licenses? What if one of them doesn't have a license? Would it then say that 5 licensed drivers had an accident in which someone required treatment? It seems odd to count the 3 passengers having an accident if they all had licenses, but only two passengers if one of them doesn't have a license.

Also, a realize this is a derail, but I'm curious...why does a car insurance company care about the passengers probability of being in an accident. I would think all they care about is the driver having an accident in which a passenger was hurt, since that's what they have to pay for. An insured driver who is hurt while riding as a passenger in someone else's car is presumably covered by the drivers' insurance, not their own, right?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:39 AM on August 20


New US regulations coming in an effort to address this issue.

The regulations that are proposed for the US will impose a significant financial burden on those offerors who own or lease railcars that are used for the transport of crude oil and ethanol, and it will be a challenge for rail car manufacturers to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for these railcars. Ultimately, however, the proposed changes should have a positive impact the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail.
posted by arcticseal at 9:46 AM on August 21


It doesn't matter whether your home or workplace or children's school is in danger; it is enough that many white people's homes and workplaces and children's schools are in danger.
posted by Abinadab at 10:09 AM on August 21


Kadin2048: How does the risk of being blown up in an oil train derailment compare to being blown up in a gasoline tanker-truck crash? There are a heck of a lot more of them driving around, and they can go anywhere.

Part of it is the sheer difference in volume. A tanker truck can carry about 370 barrels. A unit train can carry 81,000 barrels. A tanker truck explosion/fire has the potential to destroy several blocks. An oil train explosion/fire could wipe out an entire town. (Not exaggerating here -- almost my entire hometown is in a red or yellow zone.)
posted by nathan_teske at 4:48 PM on August 21


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