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Transportation Department Sued By Groups Concerned Over Oil Trains

Several environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Transportation over new rules for oil train traffic that they say do not go far enough to protect against catastrophic accidents.

The number of oil train accidents and ensuing fires or explosions are popping up in the news more frequently., the most recent being an explosion near Heimdal, North Dakota. Part of the reason is the newer crude oil that is being pumped from the Bakken oil fields is more combustible.

In an effort to reduce the number of fires and accidents, the US Department of transportation issued a new rule that calls for phasing out older oil tank cars from the nations rail lines.

Those cars are more subject to corrosion form the Bakken oil, and more prone to break open in the event of an accident.

But Spokane Riverkeeper Jerry White says the ten year timeline to get rid of the older cars is not fast enough.

White: “The DOT's 111 cars that are carrying this Bakken crude, they’re really not safe at all to carry this Bakkan crude.There is a move to go to the industry standard car, the CPC 1232, but they are not significantly safer. And theyre getting a ten year window to phase those in, and we’d like to see and all out ban."

Critics of the new DOT rule say it also guts public notification requirements, so city authorities are left without specific information about when oil trains may be passing through their communities.

Those who are challenging the federal rule include the Riverkeeper, as well as the Sierra Club, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, and the Washington Environmental Council.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.
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