Bakken oil through Red Wing?

January 9th, 2014

I don’t know much about this, but I’m learning.  What I do know, what I’ve learned, is that it CAN happen here… it has.  That is, we’ve had train derailments here in Red Wing, across the river in Hager City, and down river in Winona.  Where there are trains, there are derailments (I’ve not forgotten about low-bridging that Monticello nuclear rotor in downtown Minneapolis in … 1997?)  So what’s to prevent a Lac Megantic or Casselton, ND explosion from happening here?

Where there are trains there are risks, but are we aware of the risks?  Are there new risks? Are we operating on an outmoded understanding of the risks?

In today’s Washington Post:

Senators call for action on oil train derailments

If a derailment and explosion the magnitude of the one in Casselton, ND were to happen here in Red Wing, what would that mean?  If one the magnitude of Lac Megantic were to happen here, what would that mean?

(imagine a graphic illustration here — I’m working on it)

Where are these trains coming from, and where are they going?  I found this great map, it’s set for Bakken oil, and when you go to this link and there’s a map, look off to the right, and you’ll see destinations.  Click on one of the regions and you’ll see that for the middle of the US, you get Hayti, MO and others.  For the East Coast, Delaware City refinery shows up.  GREAT MAP!



Are we prepared for Bakken oil trains running through town?  What about increasing knowledge about explodability of oil tanker cars?  What about the discovery that Bakken oil being shipped is more volatile than regular crude oil?  What are we doing to address these new risks?  Even the federal DOT admits that this is not your father’s crude oil:

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is issuing this safety alert to notify the general public, emergency responders and shippers and carriers that recent derailments and resulting fires indicate that the type of crude oil being transported from the Bakken region may be more flammable than traditional heavy crude oil.

Here’s the full 1_2_14 DOT Rail_Safety_Alert

Here’s another issue with Bakken oil, that of increased corrosion:

N. Dakota fracked oil said to corrode rail tank cars, put workers at risk

Of note in that article is that “Montreal, Maine and Atlantic said last week it was forced to file for bankruptcy because of potential liability in the [Lac Megantic] crash.”  Great.  So they’re subjecting us to these risks, and derailments and explosions can and do happen, and now they’re ducking financial responsibility?  Not acceptable.

Now for photos of wrecks:

This week’s train derailment near Plaster Rock, New Brunswick:

Train carrying oil derails, catches fire in New Brunswick, Canada

And one in Wisconsin last March:

Train carrying sand derails near Hatfield

A photo of the staging area for Bakken oil tankers headed for the Delaware City refinery, just 5 miles north of our home in Port Penn, DE.  This parking lot is 14 tracks deep at its deepest, if you go to google earth, look for Delaware City and on the NW edge of town, you’ll see the refinery, and go to the northwest edge, where the refinery turns into corn fields, and there’s the parking lot. It used to be this large oval, like a huge racetrack, and now there’s this new one:


Some examples of derailments from the Red Wing area.

An article I found says this one below was a westbound train, and that the cars were empty.  Good!  But there are a lot of eastbound full ones coming through these days…

This one is from February, 2012:



Directly across the river in Hager City, WI, another one in 2012, found on the City of Red Wing site:



And another derailment in Hager City triggered an evacuation of the town!

Hager City Train Derailment Update

UPDATE: Freight train derails in Pierce County

Back in 2008, another report of a derailment in Winona, with tankers going off into the Mississippi:

2 trains collide in Winona County; cars fall into river A 1,000-gallon liquid propane tank near the tracks was leaking, and nitrogen was leaking from one of the trains that derailed in the 5:30 a.m. crash near Dresbach, officials say. Two freight trains collided head-on before dawn this morning in extreme southeastern Minnesota, sending some of the derailed cars into the Mississippi River, authorities said. A 1,000-gallon liquid propane tank stationed next to the tracks in Dresbach and used to heat a switching station was leaking, as was liquid nitrogen from one of the trains, said spokesman Dave Belz of Winona County Emergency Management. The nitrogen is not considered a health hazard, Belz said, but the propane leak has prompted officials to evacuate the 15 residents from a nearby veterans home “because of wind shifts.” Two train crew members were taken to a hospital but only as a precaution, said Mike LoVecchio, a spokesman for Calgary-based Canadian Pacific, the railway that operates the two trains. “We are not counting them as injuries.” LoVecchio said 18 or 19 cars derailed. Authorities on the scene said the number was closer to 40. Emergency Management Deputy Director Joyce Tlougan, said, one of the engines is in the river, “not totally submerged, but it is in there.” The north-south tracks run parallel to the river and Interstate Hwy. 90, where traffic continued to flow normally, Belz said. The tracks are about 20 to 30 feet up a slight embankment from the river, he said. At that spot, LoVecchio said, there is a siding (tracks that act as a passing lane). “How these two trains made contact with each other is obviously part of the investigation,” he said. “We will be doing a comprehensive investigation and cooperating fully with the investigating authorities.” La Crescent Fire Chief Bernie Buehler, the incident commander, said one train coming from Portage, Wis., was pulling 100 cars, and the other was coming from La Crescent, Minn., with 15 cars. Belz said this is the first crash of this type “that I’m aware of” in his 30 years in law enforcement in the area. With the arrival of daybreak, Belz said, emergency personnel turned their immediate attention to containing the leaks and retrieving the cars in the river. Dresbach is about 150 miles southeast of the Twin Cities. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

And back to Red Wing, here’s a report of another derailed train from February, 1999.

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