As a direct result of the Bakken shale oil boom, more crude oil was spilled from rail cars last year than in the previous four decades combined. That’s according to a McClatchy analysis of federal data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which governs rail transport of liquid fuels like crude.
The fireball that followed the derailment and explosion of two trains, one carrying Bakken crude oil, on Dec. 30, 2013, outside Casselton, ND. Photo credit: PHMSA
The analysis revealed more than 1.15 million gallons of crude spilled in 2013, considerably more than the 800,000 gallons spilled from 1975 (when the government started collecting data on spills) to 2012.
The rail industry likes to boast a 99.99 percent success rate in delivery shipments without incident, and that number remained consistent in 2013, with 1.15 million of the roughly 11.5 billion gallonsshipped by rail being spilled. What did change was the volume of actual crude being shipped by rail.
As we’ve covered before, there is a massive boom in crude-by-rail throughout North America, with a nearly 2400-percent increase in crude railcar shipments in five short years from 2008-2012. As it turned out, 2013 was another record-setting year.
These charts from the Association of American Railroads and the U.S. Energy Information Association show the trend pretty clearly: (view the charts and read the full article by clicking here)