Letter: Potential for catastrophic mishaps should heighten resolve against All Aboard Florida

Posted on March 17, 2016

By: Arthur Apissomian, Port St. Lucie

Letter: Potential for catastrophic mishaps should heighten resolve against All Aboard Florida

Stanford Erickson, (Feb. 21 guest column, "Keep Fighting to derail train") nails the core reason why we should resist All Aboard Florida: "Florida East Coast Industries will discontinue the (unprofitable passenger) service, and run freight on those passenger rail lines." This is certain, since FEC bought 24 new GE freight locomotives in January 2014.

The consequences: Freight trains will eventually transport chemicals and oil, these being among the most profitable cargoes. Spillage from train accidents will result in environmental catastrophes. The odds of this happening increase with the speed of the train.

Statistics show an ever-increasing number of oil-train incidents. To see what they look like, visit http://tinyurl.com/h8fj3xn — a gallery of photos taken within the past two years, on the Sightline website.

Last year, the town of Heimdal, North Dakota, had to be evacuated after oil cars derailed and caught fire. Eight tankers from a BNSF train carrying 103 cars loaded with crude oil derailed and caught fire near Galena, Illinois. Firefighters had difficulty suppressing the fire source, and had to let it burn its self out. Toxic fires are common.

We must ask: When this happens in our communities who will bear the responsibility and costs for physical damages? Who will be charged with remediation?

Will we be confronted with corporate denial, as Mayflower, Arkansas, was when the ExxonMobil pipeline burst in 2013, and spewed "dilbit" — a tar sands sludge over roads and lawns?

This sludge is technically "not oil" under industry-scripted federal regulations; therefore the company claimed no responsibility. ExxonMobil has since paid about $5 million in costs, but last year's consent decree is still being contested, and water contamination remains a concern.

We should be asking more questions, and getting more answers.

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