Gov. Jay Inslee says the state and federal government must do more to prevent oil spills from “outdated, inadequate and outright dangerous” trains that carry volatile Bakken crude oil across Washington state.
“These train cars were not designed to carry this product,” Inslee said at a press conference in Seattle on Wednesday. The governor is calling on the federal government to impose a speed limit of 30 miles per hour for trains that have not been updated to transport high-hazard materials, and 40 miles per hour once the train cars are upgraded.
“We don’t let speeding cars through our school zones,” he said. “We should not let speeding unsafe oil rail cars through Washington state cities.”
A train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed in Seattle in July as it was heading for a refinery at Anacortes, but it didn’t spill any oil. Inslee said the state “dodged a bullet” because the train was traveling at slow speeds.
Inslee also wants the federal government to shorten the two-year time period it is proposing for rail companies to upgrade train cars. “That is too long,” he said. “A one year window should provide adequate time for rail car upgrades that are already underway.”
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, the governor urged a “quicker phase out of the T-111 tank cars that are inadequate for transporting high-hazard materials,” saying the cars should not be used to transport Bakken crude after October 2016.
The Dept. of Ecology released a preliminary report on Wednesday that makes recommendations on how the state can improve rail safety at a time the state is seeing increased carloads of oil and coal from Montana and North Dakota.
The report includes more than $12 million in budget recommendations, including hiring extra rail inspectors, providing equipment and training for local first responders and firefighters, and developing new geographic response plans for oil spills.
Inslee said he would use the recommendations to submit a plan to the Legislature during the 2015 session.
The public can submit comments about the initial recommendations online or at two public meetings: Oct. 28 in Spokane, or Oct. 30 in Olympia.
TVW taped the press conference. Watch it below: