Officials: Inland NW Needs More Spill Response Capacity For Oil Trains

By Tom Banse

The rapid rise in crude oil shipping by rail means Northwest states need to bulk up their oil spill response capacity. That's according to members of a task force of Pacific states and British Columbia which met in Seattle Wednesday.

Environmental regulators heard from BNSF Railway that mile-long crude oil trains from North Dakota could cross the Northwest around five times a day in coming years. That makes the Washington Department of Ecology's Linda Pilkey-Jarvis especially concerned about the inland Northwest, which hasn't been much of a focus when it comes to oil spills before. She says her agency would like to see railroads "contribute" to a spill readiness fund like marine tankers have to.

Linda Pilkey-Jarvis: "You know, they're presenting a risk so they should pay to keep us ready."

However, extending the oil import tax to rail transport would require an act of the Washington Legislature. The railroads not surprisingly oppose that. BNSF says on its own it has ordered additional spill response trailers to be stationed along the Columbia River.

The Pacific States - British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force:

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