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Tacoma, “NW city most threatened by oil trains”
Earlier this week an article appeared on Sightline Daily that should give all Tacomans pause for thought. Author Eric de Place sums it up like this:
"Tacoma ... is now the Northwest city most threatened by oil trains."
This is not good news.
That danger comes from the volume of oil traveling through Tacoma by rail, and the risk that one of those trains could derail. The bad fallout of such a wreck would only be compounded by the financial burden the City of Tacoma would bear if a derailment occured.
According to de Place, facilities in the Tacoma Tide Flats receive an about 80,000 barrels of crude oil each day (averaging out to more than one train every day), and there's the potential for more. Add in nearly twice that amount (15 trains each week) that passes through on its way north to other refinery facilities, and we're seeing a pretty high volume of fairly hazardous freight traffic.
There have been more than a dozen explosive derailments of oil trains across North America in the last two years, but beyond the truly scary, and very real danger from these trains, Tacoma also bears another kind of risk: Tacoma Rail is publicly-owned. That means that if a derailment were to occur, the City of Tacoma would be financially responsible for such an accident.
Just one oil train derailment could bankrupt the City.
Putting aside the death and destruction these incidents cause, and focusing just on the cold numbers, a derailment could cost up to $5 billion in an urban area like Tacoma. Tacoma Rail is only insured to $60 million. Even a moderate-sized leak could easily exhaust that limit, de Place writes. And because Tacoma Rail is publicly-owned, that cost would be passed along to the City... and its taxpayers.
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