You’ve likely seen them. Very long trains with all black cylindrical rail cars. The red placard shows the number 1267. These trains are carrying explosive crude oil, and they’re frequently passing through small towns in our watershed including Ohiopyle, Confluence, and Connellsville.
Oil Change International recently came out with a great tool showing where crude oil is being shipped by rail. Check it out and you’ll see why we are concerned, especially given the recent spate of train derailments including the one on the McKeesport bridge over the Yough. While that train thankfully was not carrying crude oil, what if it had been? Following several fiery derailments (which, in the case of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, resulted in the deaths of 47 people) the US Department of Transportation ordered railroads to report the routes of crude oil shipments to state emergency management agencies.
Recently, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette submitted a right-to-know request to gain access to this information, and the request was denied by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, which stated the reports are “confidential and proprietary” even though federal officials have said there is not reason the information can’t be released to the public.
So, let’s call the question. Would you like to know if highly explosive crude oil is being shipped by rail through your community– or along the rivers and streams where you paddle or fish? Does PEMA exist to serve and protect Pennsylvanians– or the railroads?