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Railroad Expert Worries About Oil Train Safety

Oil containers sit at a train depot on July 26, 2013 outside Williston, North Dakota. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Oil containers sit at a train depot on July 26, 2013 outside Williston, North Dakota. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Most of downtown Lynchburg, Virginia is back to normal, after 17 cars of a 105-car train carrying especially explosive oil crashed last week, sending flames 100 feet into the air near City Hall.

It was the ninth significant accident in the past year in the U.S. and Canada, involving trains carrying oil.

This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an emergency order for railroads, for the first time, to tell state officials when the longest of these so-called oil trains are passing through.

Paul Sando, an expert in rail logistics, discusses his concerns with Here & Now’s Robin Young. He says older trains derail more often than newer ones, but many of the old ones are not being phased out because they’re in demand, as a result of the boom in oil production.

Sando notes that even older tankers that have been reinforced have crashed at speeds below the speed limits set by the railroad industry.


  • Paul Sando, assistant professor of geography at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

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