Oil train bridge safety called in to question - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Oil train bridge safety called in to question

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One group is calling rail bridges in the Inland Northwest and across the nation deadly crossing. In a report released Tuesday, the Waterkeeper Alliance calls into question the safety of bridges that oil trains use. One group is calling rail bridges in the Inland Northwest and across the nation deadly crossing. In a report released Tuesday, the Waterkeeper Alliance calls into question the safety of bridges that oil trains use.
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  • Oil Trains & Coal Trains in Spokane

    Oil Trains & Coal Trains in Spokane

    Read the latest news about about oil trains, coal  trains; oil and coal exports that are transported via train through in Spokane, Washington and the Pacific Northwest.

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    Read the latest news about about oil trains, coal  trains; oil and coal exports that are transported via train through in Spokane, Washington and the Pacific Northwest.

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One group is calling rail bridges in the Inland Northwest and across the nation deadly crossing. In a report released Tuesday, the Waterkeeper Alliance calls into question the safety of bridges that oil trains use.

Their advocates found signs of neglect in half of those they inspected, including crumbling concrete, exposed rebar, and severe rusting.

We see these trains pass through town every day. But some are concerned about the oil trains carrying hazardous materials that can be explosive.

Jerry White is the Spokane Riverkeeper. He looked at some of the bridges in the report.

“Here in the riverbed we found some of the footings underneath the bridge piers had been washed away and that's a concern to us with all of the oil train traffic that travels over the bridges,” he says.

But railroad companies don't agree with the report. BNSF says safety is their top priority. They have track inspectors on site every day, and bridge specialists inspect the bridge top to bottom three times a year. If they think there’s an issue, they can also shut down a line. The company has also invested in replacing some of the bridges too.

“We have the technology in place to make sure the integrity is safe,” says Gus Melonas, BNSF spokesman.

And regarding the looks – they say looks don’t determine the safety of the bridge. 

The Association of American Railroads also disagree with the report. Ed Greenberg with AAR says this report was compiled by non-certified bridge inspectors and the bridges today are built to handle the freight traffic.

But White believes this is a part of a larger picture.

“This is something that I want to hand down to my children that is clean and healthy and something that they can enjoy and something their children can enjoy for generations,” White says.

The group is calling for more federal oversight.

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