Monday was the second anniversary of the tragic Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, oil train disaster that killed 47 people. Since then, oil trains continue to derail and explode with five already this year. Four of the derailments occurred within just four weeks.
A coalition of environmental and social justice organizations including Sierra Club,Greenpeace, ForestEthics, Oil Change International, Center for Biological Diversity, Rainforest Action Network, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Food and Water Watch and Earthworks, have launched a week of action to call for an end to crude by rail shipments. The coalition has organized more than 80 events across the U.S. and Canada to call for an immediate ban on oil trains.
Lena Moffitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Dirty Fuels campaign made the following statement:
Exploding crude oil trains do not belong on the nation’s rails, and 25 million Americans—most of them people of color—do not deserve to be living in a blast zone. The Department of Transportation needs to take responsibility, and rather than put forward wholly inadequate rules that jeopardize the health and safety of communities along rail lines, the administration should ban bomb trains outright.
For the health and safety of all Americans, we need to leave dirty, volatile fuels like tar sands and Bakken crude in the ground. We don’t have to choose between pipelines that spill and bomb trains that explode because we can choose clean energy instead. From Vermont to Oregon, organizers remember those who lost their lives in the disaster.
This young woman was arrested along with a fellow activist for attempting to unfurl a banner on a railroad bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area. The large banner, with the message “Stop Oil Trains Now,” was sponsored by ForestEthics, Communities for a Better Environment and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network as part of the week of action.
Megan Zapanta, an organizer with Asian Pacific Environmental Network, “estimates 5.5 million Californians live within one mile of an oil train route, which she says is considered the potential blast zone of a catastrophic explosion,” according to Public News Service. “Oil trains are carrying extremely volatile, flammable crude oil,” she told Public News Service. “Many different derailments have happened across the country, so we’re very concerned about seeing an explosion or some sort of spill or damage here.”
This map shows all the events around the U.S. and in Canada that the coalition of environmental and social justice organizations is putting on.
We’ve come very close to more deadly disasters with the recent explosions, as Todd Paglia, executive director of ForestEthics points out: “Five times in 2015 we’ve seen oil trains derail and send toxic fireballs into the sky. Luckily, none of these accidents was fatal, however, each of these trains traveled through heavily populated areas, and would have travelled through more on their way to coastal refineries.”
“ForestEthics calculates that 25 million Americans live in the oil train Blast Zone,” says Matt Krogh, ForestEthics extreme oil campaign director. “Federal regulations do little or nothing to protect our communities. Our first responders aren’t equipped for these dangerous trains carrying millions of gallons of the world’s most toxic, most carbon intensive, most explosive crude oil. These trains are too dangerous for the rails.”
Read more at NationofChange.