Oil Train Crashes in Indiana and Illinois: Growing Oil Train Explosion Dangers


Oil Train Crashes in Indiana and Illinois: Growing Oil Train Explosion Dangers

Our part of the country is criss-crossed by railroad tracks and it’s rare to be able to drive across any section of Indiana or Illinois and not cross a railroad crossing or drive alongside the path of train tracks. It’s part of our environment and railroad transportation is a part of our heritage.

Most train accidents here deal with things like railroad workers being hurt on the job; cars colliding with railroad trains; or an individual on a bike on on foot being hit by a train. The future train accident in our part of the country may be much different, and much worse in the number of victims and the extent of the harm.

Oil Crude Cargo on Trains: Danger of Fire and Explosion

It’s reported that in the last 6 years there has been 4000% increase in moving crude oil via rail. That’s not a typo: that is a FOUR THOUSAND percent jump since 2008. Which means there are lots of trains carrying flammable oil through our part of the country. Lots of it.

You may have seen these oil trains and not thought much about them. The specially designed train cars that carry oil as their cargo are easy to spot. They look like long metal cylinders placed upon a rail wheel base.

In the image below, there’s an example of Department of Transportation (DOT-111) train cars that crashed in Cherry Valley, Illinois. About 12 DOT-111 oil tank cars were involved in that train wreck, and fortunately there was no fire or explosion.

Why Are These Oil Trains So Dangerous?

There are several reasons that these oil trains are so dangerous. First, railways in our part of the country, as well as most of the United States, are far from new. Many are almost 100 years old.  Already a cause for concern, there’s been no work done on these rails to better safeguard them against all this increase in heavy cargo traffic (4000%, remember).

Additionally, the rail cars themselves are old. They were built decades ago and there is a big risk of puncture of their walls.

Thing of a leaking oil car. Imagine a spark from a moving wheel against the metal rail. It’s a situation that is simply very, very dangerous.

Oil Train Routes Moving Through Indiana and Illinois

What’s happening here? The United States shale boom is supplying lots of crude oil to the country, and Indiana and Illinois are receiving lots of crude oil from North Dakota shale. Oil trains are also moving through our area as crude oil is being transported elsewhere in the country.

Is an oil train route moving near your home? You can go here to insert the name of your city and state to learn the oil train routes passing through your community.

For instance, the city of Gary, Indiana, has two different oil train routes moving through it, carrying crude oil from North Dakota to Michigan.

Many people do not realize that this crude oil is zipping through their community – and many local authorities aren’t aware of how much is moving through their area, and how fast this stuff is going. Oil crude explosions are huge fireballs.

There is a real and growing public safety concern that these cargo trains carrying large amounts of explosive oil crude are hazards that need to be recognized and the public better protected against explosion. Change is needed.

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