2013 Was Historically Awful For U.S. Oil Train Disasters
Including major derailments in Alabama and North Dakota, more than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled from rail cars in 2013, according to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
By comparison, from 1975 to 2012, U.S. railroads spilled a combined 800,000 gallons of crude oil. The spike underscores new concerns about the safety of such shipments as rail has become the preferred mode for oil producers amid a North American energy boom.
The federal data does not include incidents in Canada where oil spilled from trains. Canadian authorities estimate that more than 1.5 million gallons of crude oil spilled in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, on July 6, when a runaway train derailed and exploded, killing 47 people. The cargo originated in North Dakota.
In other words, if all the oil train spills from 2013 had happened in one spill, it would’ve been the 6th-largest oil disaster in American history.
Big Oil likes to say that data like this just shows why we need to ship more crude oil by pipeline. But just off the top of my head, I can give you a list of 2013 oil pipeline ruptures that nearly tops the rail spill total:
- The March 2013 Exxon Mobil Pegasus tar sands oil pipeline disaster in Mayflower, Arkansas that poisoned nearby wetlands and killed dozens of birds, turtles and snakes. Exxon has never provided a definitive total of how much oil spilled, estimating 210,000 to 294,000 gallons. Mayflower and its wildlife are still struggling to recover.
- An 840,000 gallon oil pipeline rupture in North Dakota discovered last October, but that may just be the tip of the iceberg. According to one news report, there have been hundreds of publicly unreported oil pipeline spills in North Dakota in the last two years.
- A 27,000 gallon fuel leak in Utah last March that could’ve been much more disastrous if not for a beaver dam.
- 17,000 gallons of crude oil spilled by the Koch Pipeline Company in Texas last October.
And just last week, there was a 5,000 gallon leak in Saskatchewan on the Alberta Clipper tar sands oil pipeline, which further down the pipeline runs under the Great Lakes.
But the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would be TOTALLY different, you guys! Safety first this time!
We’ve handed over far too much control of our critical wildlife habitats, clean water and stable climate to Big Oil – it’s time to draw the line. Ask President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.