Recent train explosions worries Spokane leaders



Posted on January 10, 2014 at 6:37 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 10 at 6:42 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Recent train explosions from tanks carrying crude oil have some people in the Spokane community worried.

Railroad companies that come through the area said they have extensive plans in   place to prevent and respond to potential explosions.

Late last month a train derailment in North Dakota created a fireball. The cars carrying crude oil lead to explosion and plumes of smoke. Even though no one was injured, it has some local city leaders worried.

Recent explosions across North America come as federal agencies are putting out warnings about the type of crude oil coming from North Dakota.  That type of oil, which comes through Spokane, is more flammable than traditional crude oil.

Staff with BNSF and Union Pacific tells KREM 2 News that they provide training for law enforcement agencies and work with them to prevent and respond to emergencies. Each company has their own team in the area that would arrive on scene if there were a disaster.

Both railroad companies said they also give information about the chemicals they are carrying to first responders but do not release it to the public.  City leaders are worried about this type of oil going through the area.

“If we think of that much highly flammable material flying through our town,” said Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart.

The association of American Railroads points out that 99.99% or almost all of hazardous materials carried by rail make it to their final destination safely.

The city’s fire department said they have had to prepare for the dangers of railroads coming through downtown for years. They have constantly updated their response plans especially after explosions in other areas point out important changes that need to be made.

Council President Ben Stuckart plans to introduce a resolution this month calling for environmental studies related to railroads to include Spokane.