Oil trains threaten city neigh­bor­hoods

Baltimore Sun - - WORLD - Gaige Hunter Kerr, Bal­ti­more

A re­cent ed­i­to­rial pointed out that the fos­sil fu­els in­dus­try is will­ing to put our com­mu­ni­ties at risk for the sake of main­tain­ing its bot­tom line (“About that clean coal busi­ness,” Oct. 11).

This real­ity is ap­par­ent in Bal­ti­more as the oil in­dus­try puts our city at risk of an oil train ex­plo­sion.

In our own back­yards, trains full of Bakken crude oil rum­ble along our ag­ing tracks on a daily ba­sis. There have al­ready been sev­eral de­rail­ments in Bal­ti­more City.

In June, a CSX train de­railed near Bolton Hill. And in 2001 an 11-car de­rail­ment in the Howard Street Tun­nel shut down the city, caus­ing mil­lions of dol­lars in eco­nomic losses.

None of the de­rail­ments in Bal­ti­more have in­volved trains car­ry­ing Bakken crude oil, which has been de­scribed as be­ing as flammable as gaso­line.

Other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, how­ever, have not been as lucky. In 2013, the de­rail­ment of a train car­ry­ing Bakken crude oil in Que­bec turned a small town into a fiery in­ferno that claimed 47 lives.

As a con­cerned cit­i­zen, I have cho­sen to work along­side a num­ber of lo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal and civic groups to pro­tect the es­ti­mated 165,000 Bal­ti­more City res­i­dents who live in areas that would be di­rectly im­pacted if a train de­railed and ex­ploded.

On Nov. 1, the Bal­ti­more City Coun­cil’s Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee will hear Or­di­nance 16-0621, a com­mon-sense mea­sure that would re­quire health, safety, and en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies of oil trains in Bal­ti­more.

I urge other con­cerned cit­i­zens to con­tact their coun­cil mem­bers and Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ings-Blake to sup­port this or­di­nance and also to at­tend the com­mit­tee hear­ing at 10 a.m. at City Hall.

The pas­sage of this or­di­nance will send a loud and clear mes­sage that res­i­dents of Bal­ti­more City value a safe, clean and liv­able fu­ture over prof­its and com­merce.

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