Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

How Climate Change Could Lead to More Oil Train Derailments

Energy
How Climate Change Could Lead to More Oil Train Derailments

Fossil fuels contribute to climate change when they are produced and emitted, and, now, a report shows that rising temperatures are making the railway transportation of them riskier than ever.

With temperatures in the U.S. rising by as much as 9 degrees, the rails that oil-carrying trains travel on are vulnerable to "sun kinks," or buckling as a result of extreme heat, according to a report from Climate Central.

When a railway gets a sun kink, heat expands its metal, causing rails to curve and making travel dangerous for trains, particularly ones that are carrying oil. More sun kinks could mean more derailments, leading to more hazardous materials in the air and our drinking supplies.

Derailments like this one in Lynchburg, VA could become a lot more common as temperatures continue to rise. Photo credit: City of Lynchburg/Facebook

“Yes, you would anticipate more widespread or frequent incidents of track buckling as the temperature rises," said Virginia Burkett, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist.

More than 2,100 U.S. train derailments over the past four decades have been attributable to sun kinks. Each incident typically costs about $1 million, said Andrew Kish, an independent railroad track stability consultant and rail buckling expert formerly with the Volpe National Transportation System Center at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Four derailments took place in two weeks of summer 2012, the hottest year in U.S. history. They caused the the Federal Railroad Administration [FRA] to issue a safety advisory for the remainder of that summer.

The FRA is taking credit for kink-caused derailments dropping each year since 2011, but they remain unpredictable in nature, particularly in warmer weather. Trains are also increasing the amount of oil they carry. Crude oil shipments grew from 9,500 carloads in 2009 to nearly 400,000 last year.

“Look, if a train derails carrying coal, no big deal,” Kish said. “But if you dump a train with hazmat (hazardous materials) or liquid nitrogen or crude oil, it starts burning.

"It’s a more catastrophic event.”

——–

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

Thousands of Crude Oil Gallons Spill Into James River as Train Derails in Virginia

About 10,000 Gallons of Crude Oil Spills onto Los Angeles Area Streets

——–

Project goal: To create an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to leather, in this case using fungi.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Plastic waste is bulldozed at a landfill. Needpix

The plastic recycling model was never economically viable, but oil and gas companies still touted it as a magic solution to waste, selling the American public a lie so the companies could keep pushing new plastic.

Read More Show Less

Trending

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less
A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less
In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch