The July 24 derailment of five of 102 train cars carrying crude oil under the Magnolia Bridge drove home the near-inevitability of even more oil trains coming through Seattle. That the incident occurred the same day as a Seattle hearing on BP’s proposed dock expansion to its Cherry Point refinery in Whatcom County was not lost on opponents.
The newer-model train was traveling only 5 mph on recently upgraded track (no oil spilled), so King County’s Emergency Management Department deemed it necessary to practice the area’s first disaster-preparedness exercise on Aug. 5 in response to the potential of catastrophic incidents in the future.
It’s difficult to argue against the possibility of more than 200 million barrels of crude oil being transported each year through the state, when our national economy relies heavily on crude oil and coal export. It will take more than large, scattered groups of protestors in the Puget Sound region to derail the coming of more oil trains.
Until a more organized, unified voice emerges from the entire state about safety and environmental concerns, we should all prepare for something more substantial than increased wait times at railroad crossings.