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Train Derailment in WV Highlights Fuel Transport Worries

Written By Editor on 2/18/15 | 2/18/15

The balance between fossil fuels and need for winter heating fuel was on display this week after a severe crash in West Virginia. A train carrying 3 million gallons of oil derailed in snowy weather, causing a fire that is still burning. Oil has also seeped into a nearby river.

The derailment has caused hundreds of families to be evacuated and 19 train cars left the tracks. One house was burnt down in the fire.

Photo credit: Marcus Constantino/Reuters
The media quotes Senator Joe Manchin as saying, "All you can see is a couple of blocks sticking out of the ground. There's some pickup trucks out front completely burned to the ground."
Much of the increased rail transport of oil and natural gas is due to changes in fossil fuel technology, namely fracking:
Rail shipments of crude have increased from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to more than 435,000 in 2013, driven by a boom in the Bakken oil patch of North Dakota and Montana. Limited pipeline capacity there forces about 70 percent of the crude to reach refineries by rail, according to American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.
These types of accidents hit a deadly peak in 2013, when an explosion in Quebec killed 47 people.
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