Railroads May Be Safer Than Pipelines for Transporting Crude Oil

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Railroad Oil Tank CarsOne of the main arguments in favor of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is the safety of pipeline transportation when compared with crude transport by rail or truck. The U.S. Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) keeps a comprehensive database of all transportation accidents, including those involving oil and petroleum product spills from pipelines, railroads, and cars. However, only a concerted effort will tease any meaningful information out of all that data.

The American Association of Railroads (AAR) has done the work and even though the group has a stake in the outcome, the AAR deserves a lot of props just for digging through more than a dozen years of data.

Between 2002 and 2012, there were a total of 129 reported incidents of crude oil spills on U.S. railroads compared with a total of 1,849 reported pipeline incidents in the same period. On average a railroad oil spill dumps…

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