Waterkeeper Alliance documented potential deficiencies of 250 railway bridges in 15 states that it says are along routes of oil trains. The report, “Deadly Crossing: Neglected Bridges & Exploding Oil Trains,” lists 114 bridges that they say cause “serious concern.” (Download the report below.)
The report cites photos and video footage of the bridges inspected that show signs of significant stress and decay, such as rotted, cracked, or crumbling foundations, and loose or broken beams. The report says observers were also present when crude oil trains passed and observed flexing, slumping and vibrations that crumbled concrete.
“Waterkeepers boarded their patrol boats to uncover what is happening to the structural integrity of our nation’s railway bridges, a responsibility our federal government has shirked,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “People deserve to know the state of this infrastructure and the risks oil trains pose as they rumble through our communities.”
This effort was initiated out of concern for the threat posed by the 5,000 percent increase in oil train traffic since 2008. Oil train traffic increases both the strain in rail infrastructure, as well as the likelihood of a rail bridge defect leading to an oil train derailment, spill, explosion and fire.
“Half the bridges we looked at have potentially serious safety problems,” says Matt Krogh, ForestEthics extreme oil campaign director. “There are 100,000 rail bridges in the U.S. – any one of them could be the next deadly crossing. Oil trains are rolling over crumbling bridges and we can’t wait for the next derailment, spill, and explosion to act.”