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Washington, D.C./Berkeley, CA — A new report released by Earthworks today makes concrete recommendations to minimize the threats posed by oil trains traveling through communities across the United States. These trains transport volatile, fracked oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale.

“Transporting oil by rail is risky business,” said Earthworks Executive Director Jennifer Krill. She continued, “Only by keeping fracked shale oil in the ground can we eliminate the risk of oil train spills and explosions.”

The report clearly lays out why oil trains are dangerous and what’s at stake:

  • Shale crude oil is volatile, which increases the chance of rupture or explosion
  • Shale crude oil is highly toxic, it includes hazardous chemicals like benzene and hydrogen sulfide
  • Shale oil, particularly from the Bakken, is radioactive
  • The rail cars themselves are not safe enough for this volatile, toxic and radioactive product

As long as shipping shale crude oil by rail continues, safety can never be guaranteed. This report joins the growing chorus of community leaders calling for an end to shipping shale crude oil by rail. In the meantime, some sensible steps could be taken to reduce risk.

  • Bakken Oil should be stabilized and natural gas liquids (NGL) should be removed prior to transport.
  • Fracking chemicals should disclosed, especially in the aftermath of a derailment, explosion, or spill.
  • Prior to transport, oil should be tested for radioactivity, and radioactivity should be disclosed.
  • DOT-111 and CPC 1232 cars should be removed from service; retrofitting to looser standards should not be an option.
  • Trains should be adequately staffed with a minimum of two workers per train.
  • Finally, rails should have adequate funding for upkeep to avoid derailment, trains should be routed away from populated areas, and staffed with adequate crews.

“This report emphasizes what communities all over North America have been learning: oil trains can't be made safe and are too dangerous for the rails. It's time for a ban on oil trains” said Ross Hammond, US Campaigns Director, Stand.earth.