The buildout of safe, efficient pipeline infrastructure is redefining how our nation’s domestic energy resources are delivered to critical markets across the nation. A recent article published in the Ottumwa Courier highlighted a growing concern we are all too familiar with – concerns with the safety of oil trains. From the devastating 2013 tank car explosion in Quebec to last month’s oil train derailment in Oregon, it is clear that shipping crude oil resources by rail can be concerning. As noted by the Courier, Iowa is far from immune to these risks with millions of barrels of oil transiting the state’s railways ever year.
Not surprisingly, crude-by-rail shipments top Ottumwa Assistant Fire Chief Mike Craff’s list of concerns involving rail transportation. In an interview with the Courier, Craff, who is also the vice president of the Iowa State Hazmat Task Force, said cleaning up a derailment involving crude would a mess. “If one of those catches on fire we pretty much have to let it burn out,” he said.
Adding to concerns is an April 2016 report by the Iowa Department of Transportation that found a state-wide lack of preparedness for a derailment involving crude oil or ethanol.
In Iowa, the Dakota Access Pipeline will transport over 450,000 barrels of oil per day or nearly half of the Bakken’s current production. The pipeline will significantly reduce crude-by-rail traffic in our region, meaning the odds of a derailment involving oil are also drastically cut.