For an updated Railroad Position Paper, Click Here
The following resolution was endorsed by the LSNA Health and Safety Committee and will go before the LSNA board for approval at the September 9 board meeting.
To: LSNA Health & Safety Committee
From: Rivers Edge Condominium
Railroad Safety Through Logan Square
WHEREAS: The quantity of hazardous materials, specifically crude oil shipments being transported in the United States, is growing exponentially (from 65,751 carloads per year in 2011, to 407,642 carloads in 2013: Source: NY Times);
WHEREAS: Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) [the former SUNOCO South Philadelphia refinery] receives “more than two 100-car trains of crude oil a day” from the “CSX line that travels on the east bank of the Schuylkill” according to Philip L. Rinaldi, Chief Executive Officer of the refinery (Source: The Inquirer, 1/22/14);
WHEREAS: “A safety alert issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation warns the public, emergency responders, and shippers about the potential high volatility of the crude being shipped from the Bakken oil shale patch in Montana and North Dakota” (Source: The Inquirer, 1/3/14);
WHEREAS: “Following a string of explosive accidents, federal officials said that crude oil being shipped by rail from the Northern Plains across the United States and Canada—including shipments to Philadelphia-area refineries—may be more flammable than traditional forms of oil” (Source: The Inquirer, 1/3/14);
WHEREAS: “Make no mistake, an incident involving rail transport of oil will occur in the commonwealth, and lives, including first responders’ lives, and property will be put at risk. These incidents have occurred in the past, and they will occur in the future.” Former U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon testifying at a hearing on the proposed rail terminal in Eddystone, Delaware County, Source: The Inquirer, 3/6/14;
WHEREAS: Recent derailments of heavy Canadian crude oil have occurred in the past six months in Philadelphia and Western Pennsylvania;
WHEREAS: “American railroads have long operated under federal laws that shield them from local or state oversight and provide a blanket of secrecy over much of their operations.” Source: NY Times, 4/16/14;
WHEREAS: “In 2005, the District of Columbia and a handful of other communities sought to stop the traffic of hazardous products in the city centers. But the ban was successfully challenged in federal court by CSX. ‘It’s hard for the regulator and industry not to become somewhat comfortable with each other’s dance moves—like in an old marriage,’ said Reuven Carlyle, a representative in the Washington State Legislature and chairman of the House finance committee. ‘But you shouldn’t have double-secret nondisclosure agreements. Information is not a luxury. Regular people have a right to this information.’” (Source: NY Times, 4/16/14).
THEREFORE: The Logan Square Neighborhood Association requests the Mayor and City Council of Philadelphia take the following steps:
1. Actively join with other State and Local Governments, community groups, business and local organizations to demand from Federal regulators and the railroad industry that public safety be the highest priority in all decisions and actions taken concerning the scheduling and routing of hazardous material shipments.
2. Demand that the U.S. Congress pass legislation which requires local governments to be fully-informed of hazardous material shipments through their communities, and that an appropriate and meaningful regulatory role be created for local governments in the shipment of hazardous materials through their territory.
3. Demand national legislation that requires railroad companies provide appropriate bond or insurance coverage to protect local communities from the potential harm their hazardous materials shipments pose, and to indemnify the public from the potential calamities and dangers of these shipments.
View of oil shipment from Rivers Edge Condominium showing proximity to Rivers Edge, Edgewater (the white building on the right edge), and the Schuylkill Park between the railroad and the river.
Panorama view of oil shipment, Rivers Edge (right) and Edgewater Apartments (center background).
Identical view with undistorted spacial perspective showing proximity of oil shipment to pedestrian path, Rivers Edge (just right, out of the picture) and Edgewater Apartments (the visible white tower).