State and county regulators have begun reviewing three oil terminal projects that have the potential of bringing millions of gallons of crude oil through the state every day. The Port of Vancouver is the site of the largest of the three proposed undertakings. The $110 million Tesoro Corporation and Savage Company facility could handle as much as 380,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
Westway has its sights set on Grays Harbor, the proposed location of the second project that could handle up to 9.6 million barrels of oil every year. Also, Imperium Renewables has plans for an expansion that would increase its storage capacity by an additional 720,000 barrels.
In response to this proposed increase in crude oil transportation, lawmakers are proposing regulations that would require full disclosure to the public concerning information about the transport of oil by rail. Others want to propose a bill that includes a provision to extend a tax of 5 cents a barrel on oil arriving by rail. This tax would pay for state oil spill response and preparedness.
Already, trains are carrying oil through Spokane, the Tri-cities, along the Columbia River and up the Interstate 5 corridor from the Bakken region of North Dakota that produces a particularly volatile type of crude. Typically, one train has approximately 100 cars, each with the capacity to hold 28,000 gallons of crude.
Growing Safety Concerns
Oil has been transported through Washington by train for years, but with rail traffic increasing over the past few years and even more being proposed, safety concerns have escalated.
A succession of deadly and catastrophic train accidents in the past year involving oil from the Bakken region has elicited concerns about fire and other safety issues. It is estimated that three such trains already pass through Seattle every week.
Spurred into action by these recent tragedies, the Seattle City Council has proposed restricting oil shipments through the city until further safety studies can be conducted. It is also urging the state to temporarily halt any oil-by-rail projects until the dangers can be more fully evaluated.
Accidents that involve trains can result in very serious injury. Add a volatile chemical to that accident and it will certainly be catastrophic. If you or a loved one have been hurt in a train accident, don’t hesitate to call a personal injury attorney immediately.