Ban Unsafe Oil Trains

Oil train with DOT-111 train cars. Photo credit: Todd Klassy / Shutterstock

Clean Water is part of the Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains, a grassroots movement that originated in Bergen County, New Jersey and calls for the immediate ban of unsafe transportation of crude oil in our community.

An oil boom in the Bakken region of North Dakota has caused a surge in freight train traffic hauling crude oil to the East Coast. In Bergen County, CSX trains carrying toxic and highly-volatile Bakken crude oil pass through Northvale, Norwood, Harrington Park, Closter, Haworth, Dumont, Bergenfield, Teaneck, Bogota, Ridgefield Park, and Ridgefield, NJ every week. These trains--sometimes more than 120 cars long--also pass over the Oradell Reservoir, source of drinking water for 800,000 people!

What makes the rail transportation of crude oil unsafe?

  • Bakken Crude oil is a highly-volatile liquid which can ignite (and has ignited) in massive explosions and fires, has contaminated water supplies, and threatened lives, health, property, land, and ecosystems. The July 2013 derailment in Lac-Megantic, Canada resulted in 47 deaths and $1.2 billion in property damage.
  • Many of the trains use inadequate tanker cars that are extremely prone to puncture in a derailment. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently declared the DOT-111 cars unsafe, yet they are still used.
  • Lack of transparency on train routes, total crude oil volume, and the content of rail tankers keeps both the public and first responders in the dark as to the extent of the danger and the ability to effectively respond to an emergency.
  •  Rail transport of Bakken crude has grown more than 4,000% over the last five years. The impacts to health of tons of air pollutants from train engines, whether running or parked, have not been assessed.

What Can We Do About It?

Clean Water Action has helped to form a powerful new Clean Energy Coalition of over 40 organizations working to ensure NJ transitions to a clean energy future. Renewable and efficient energy technologies already exist that will help us meet our goals, while creating more jobs at less costs than burning up the planet. 

One of our main priorities is to prohibit Bakken Shale crude oil and Alberta Tar Sand products from barreling through New Jersey on explosive oil trains.

Current regulations allow rail companies to send dangerous, explosive oil shipments through our state without having to disclose the schedule or contents to local emergency personnel, governing bodies, or citizens.

Right now up to 30 oil trains a week cut through our state on the CSX line on their way towards Philadelphia. The Norfolk Southern line is also believed to carry Bakken oil shipments. These trains pass densely populated communities and critical water supplies, including the Oradell Reservoir in Bergen County and the Delaware River. An accident, spill, or derailment would have serious safety and public health impacts. 

Get Involved

Join our campaign in calling for our legislators to ensure Bakken Shale Crude oil and Alberta Tar Sand products are banned from traveling through the Garden State. Click here for more information. Learn more about the Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains here.

Region/State: