Two weeks after a train hauling North Dakota crude oil derailed and ignited in West Virginia, another train hauling the Bakken Shale’s oily payload has erupted in Illinois.
On Thursday, at approximately 1:05 PM, the AP reports that a BNSF Railway train hauling 103 cars of crude oil derailed three miles south of Galena, Illinois, not far from the historical home of President Ulysses S. Grant. Of the six cars that derailed, two cars burst into flames, prompting authorities to suggest evacuation for residents living within one mile of the crash.
The fire burned into the night, with firefighters only able to access the site by bike path and eventually pulling back for safety reasons. No injuries have been reported. The cause of the derailment is yet unknown.
If you’re reading this and have a sense of deja vu, that’s perfectly understandable. Oil train traffic in the U.S. has increased by 4,000 percent over the last five years, according to a 2014 report from the group ForestEthics. This is due to the current oil boom in North Dakota’s Bakken region and the prolific output of the Canadian tar sands. The result of higher traffic on these rails is the inevitable uptick in derailments. One rail safety consultant has said the current infrastructure is not capable of handling such a spike.
Following a 2013 derailment and explosion in Quebec that killed 47 people, the U.S. government requested that oil tank cars be outfitted with stronger hulls. However, in both yesterday’s Illinois derailment and last month’s West Virginia derailment, the cars that ruptured and exploded were the newer and purportedly stronger CPC 1232 models.
According to AP, 1232 models split open in no less than three other accidents that have occurred in the last year.