by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
My friend, Sonja Loll, mentioned she was noticing lines of tank cars on the railroad lines running through Ashtabula. Sonja is worried, as are a growing number of people across the country who are becoming aware of the hazard posed by the transport of Bakken and Tar Sands across the towns and population centers of America.
In the last two weeks the number of incidents of violent explosions which caused evacuations, injuries, shut down water-treatment plants and sent oil seeping into rivers has sent shock waves through the media into a public which previously ignored the potential for death and destruction.
The cause of these events, marking February of 2015 as a warning to be heeded, is the desire by corporations to optimize profits by ignoring maintenance, the costs of the disasters caused, these paid by ordinary people and by government.
The series of spills began with a toxic event in Igualada, a town in the Spanish province of Catalonia. Residents were told to stay inside until the toxic cloud of noxious material dissipated. 40,000 people were impacted.
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency, which cost will be underwritten by the state, including the same taxpayers from two towns forced to flee. The medical impact of residents will, if the company follows its past strategy, will be denied, minimized, and swept under the rug.
Two more derailments occurred in South Carolina.
Another disturbing fact, also now rippling though the public consciousness, is that the tank cars involved in West Virginia were not the widely used older types, known to be vulnerable, but the newer model which were to replace them.
When explosions occur the fire ball can incinerate areas for a long way, as witnessed in Lac Megantic in July of 2013. 47 people are known to have died. The town remains in shock. The corporations involved refuse to accept any responsibility.
Lac Megantic was a small town with a railroad line running through it, not so different from Ashtabula – except here there are far more railroad lines.
Along with the continued threat of bomb trains America also must confront the 2.5 million miles of pipelines, much of it deteriorating. And the Kochs, who are infamous for ignoring maintenance, are determined to spent 900 million to elect a Congress they can most firmly control.
Sonja is right to be worried, we all should be.