In Philadelphia on Monday, January 20, 2014, seven tanker cars from a mile-long oil train derailed, carrying highly flammable & explosive Bakkan shale oil.
That type of “oil bomb” train has exploded and burned in five previous derailments just since last June, often in rural areas, killing 47 people.
There were no casualties in this derailment — but listen to a railroad exec:
E. Hunter Harrison, CEO of Canadian Pacific, said on January 15th, 2014, “The 111 tank cars that you hear so much about, if I was calling the shots would be stopped tomorrow,” Harrison said, speaking with Tyler Matheson on CNBC’s Nightly Business Report. “They’re not ready, they’re not equipped for that commodity [Bakken Shale crude] as I see it, they’ve been controversial for two decades now, so that needs to change.”
What can we do to end this danger and heal our society from the Plagues that are being brought upon us by the Pharaohs of today?
The Shalom Center joins with the Philadelphia chapter of Interfaith Power & Light, Protecting Our Waters, Clean Air Council, the Catskill Mountainkeeper, and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, in calling for a halt to these dangerous trains — here and everywhere — carrying fracked oil and gas.
Philadelphia Interfaith Power & Light, with strong involvement of The Shalom Center, has decided to organize a vigorous nonviolent challenge to the Bakken Oil transports during the week before Passover/ Holy Week, in April 2014. The action will draw on the meaning of those festivals in challenging the ancient Pharaohs and Caesars who brought plagues upon the earth and their own societies, by challenging the Carbon Pharaohs of Big Coal, Big Oil, & Big Gas that are causing similar plagues today.
But this is not just a Philadelphia concern. Bakken shale oil trains run thrpugh many major cities, and they have derailed in Canada and the Western US. Other Carbon Plagues include droughts in the US corn belt, super-storms, and other extreme weather events that owe their intensity to Global Scorching.
The week just before Palm Sunday and Passover offers an extraordinary moment for people all over America to challenge these plagues and the Pharaohs that put profits before people or the earth that sustains us all.
To stand against the Ten Plagues of today, we must set Ten Healings — sacred action by all our communities. We must move our bodies to stop these dangerous trains from moving; we must Move Our Money to Protect Our Planet — moving our bank accounts, our investments, our covenant with God away from supporting the Carbon Pharaohs and instead supporting the Healing Power of the sun and wind.”
If you are interested in working to plan and organize a pre-Passover/ Holy Week action in your community, please click here: <https://theshalomcenter.org/civicrm/petition/sign?sid=5&reset=1>
The derailment last week occurred in a densely populated neighborhood, over a major highway, near several large universities, Children’s Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania medical complex. Rapid evacuation of a five-mile radius from any future oil train explosion and fire in the Philadelphia area, or any urban area, would be impossible. When a similar train exploded and burned on December 30th, 2013 in Casselton, North Dakota, evacuation was urged for a five-mile radius to avoid damaging inhalation of toxic smoke.
“This near miss [in Philadelphia] highlights the public safety and health concerns related to a continued reliance on polluting fossil fuels for our energy needs,” said Matt Walker, Community Outreach Director of the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council. “No one—not the residents of the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota living near active drilling and flaring, or residents of Philadelphia, should have to be exposed to the health and safety impacts of unbridled dirty energy. The Council calls for a swift transition away from polluting and harmful energy, including fracked crude oil and gas, to clean, safe renewable energy, with conservation and energy efficiency.”
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, a member of the Philadelphia chapter of Interfaith Power and Light PA and a member of the Board of The Shalom Center, said: “It is morally indefensible to endanger the lives of tens of thousands of people along hundreds of miles of railroad track by shipping an extremely dangerous substance in tanker cars that the authorities admit are unsafe and need to be phased out.”
Please remember: If you want to work on a pre-Passover/ Holy Week action, please click to:
The Shalom Center welcomes and is glad to share the following important information gathered by Protecting Our Waters <http://protectingourwaters.wordpress.com/>, one of the most vigorous opponents of fracking:
“This could have been catastrophic,” said Wes Gillingham, Program Director for the Catskill Mountainkeeper. “The train could have exploded onto a busy highway, spewing the toxic contents directly into the Schkullkill river which flows into the Delaware River.”
“This should stand as a wake up call not just to Philadelphia but also all across the country to any community near a rail transport,” said Gillingham. “The clear message is we need to stop the runaway gas and oil industry from endangering our communities for the sake of their profits.”
The exploding trains have also damaged air, drinking water and wetlands. Yesterday’s derailment put the Schuylkill River at risk as toxic Bakken shale oil, known to contain carcinogenic benzene and deadly hydrogen sulfide at high levels, dangles over the river, threatening to catch fire and explode as other train cars have done.
Economist Janette Barth, PhD, who has written and lectured extensively on the economic impact of shale gas development and is a director of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, commented, “The recent derailments and explosions of trains carrying crude are just another of the many costs that have not been considered in analyses of the economic impacts of increased shale oil and gas production in the United States. It is far too costly for Americans to allow continued exploration and development of shale oil and gas. The time is now to ramp down the production and use of fossil fuels and to increase the development of renewable energy.”
BACKGROUND: The chronology of six derailments across North America overshadows the fact that yesterday’s derailment is also the fourth derailment of this type of train to occur in the Philadelphia area since 2011. First, the five previous “oil bomb” train derailments, explosions, fires and evacuations:
1. 2013: June 6th: Lac-Megantic, Canada: Bakken Shale oil train derails, explodes, burns 15 acres of downtown Lac-Megantic, vaporizes 42 people; five presumed dead.
2. 2013: October 19th: Edmunton, Canada: A fireballs erupts air as a Bakken Shale train derails; one LPG car explodes and three burn; homes burn to the ground.
3. 2013: November 8th: In rural Alabama, 20 cars of a Bakken Shale oil train derail, burning and sending a fireball 300 feet into the air, also polluting a wetlands.
4. 2013: December 30th: In Casselton, North Dakota a stunning mushroom-shaped fireball erupts, followed by heavy plumes of toxic smoke, when 21 cars of a Bakken Shale oil and gas train derail and burn. Town evacuated; evacuation urged for everyone in a five mile radius to avoid the toxic smoke.
5. 2014: January 7th: Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, Canada: 150 people evacuated when 17 cars derailed including 5 oil cars, 4 LPG cars. Two LPG tank cars and one crude oil tank car caught fire.
6. 2014: January 20th: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Seven cars of a 101-car CSX train from Chicago derailed on the Schuylkill Arsenal Railroad Bridge over the Schuylkill River. Six were carrying crude oil, and one was carrying sand.
Philadelphia area derailments involving 111 type tank cars since 2011:
1. Derailment in East Park near Fountain Green Drive in January 2011
2. Derailment in Paulsboro in November 2012
3. Derailment in September 2013 near PBF’s Paulsboro refinery
Risk factors making Bakken Shale oil trains particularly unacceptably dangerous:
1. Rail cars of the 111 type are not designed to carry this type of fuel
2. Presence of volatile organic compounds, including carcinogenic benzene, increases pressure, flammability and explosive character of the fuel
3. Presence of deadly and explosive hydrogen sulfide gas, found by Enbridge in Bakken Shale oil at 1,200 parts per million. Just a few inhalations of H2S at 200 parts per million can cause respiratory failure in humans.
4. Researchers have found that in collisions, the highly rigid thin skins of the (111 type) tank ruptures easily.
5. Rails over which these trains travel are often very old. The Philadelphia railroad bridge involved in yesterday’s derailment was built at the turn of the 20th century.
6. Experts are wondering whether the Bakken Shale oil and gas is so flammable that it should be re-categorized as a Class 1 explosive material, but while the experts wonder, it is categorized as if it is less explosive and flammable than it in fact is.
Source for Philadelphia area derailments and H2S content in Enbridge oil tank: Hidden City: “A Petaled Rose of Hell: Refineries, Fire Risk, and the New Geography of Oil in Philadelphia’s Tidewater,” by Christopher Dougherty. Online at http://hiddencityphila.org/2013/12/a-petaled-rose-of-hell-refineries-fire-risk-and-the-new-geography-of-oil-in-philadelphias-tidewater/
More background on all 6 Bakken shale train derailments and on Bakken fracking and flaring: type “Bakken” into “search” on www.protectingourwaters.com <http://www.protectingourwaters.com/> for links, photos, video.
Please remember: If you want to work on the pre-Passover/ Holy Week action, please click to: