Baltimore Residents and Environmental Organizations to Call for action from City Council after Hazardous Train derails in the Howard Street Tunnel

Monday, June 13, 2016
Oil Trains Baltimore by jennifer kunze

After inaction by the City Council, activists are demanding health and safety studies to be conducted on oil trains in Baltimore City; analysis shows 165,000 Baltimore residents live within the potential one-mile blast zone of an oil train disaster

BALTIMORE -- On Tuesday, June 14th, community members and experts will discuss the citywide public safety and environmental threat posed by dangerous oil trains, following a 13-car derailment in the Howard Street Tunnel this week.

The 11:30AM press conference will focus on the call for the City Council to pass Ordinance #16-0621, a bill that would require the Health Department to conduct a health impacts assessment and a risk assessment for oil train shipments throughout Baltimore. Speakers include concerned residents and local experts on the issue, including Jon Kenney from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Jennifer Kunze from Clean Water Action. Visuals will include activists holding a large replica “oil train” and the Howard Street Tunnel in the background.

Over the last two years, the oil industry has moved millions of gallons of highly toxic and volatile Bakken crude oil on rail lines through Baltimore. This is the dangerous cargo that derailed and exploded three years ago in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people.

Just two weeks ago, a derailment and explosion of trains carrying crude oil in Mosier, Oregon forced the evacuation of two nearby schools. According to a Stand.Earth map, based on publicly available data, these trains travel past Baltimore homes, schools, churches, the Inner Harbor, and Camden Yards, putting over 165,000 people in the potential one-mile blast zone of an explosion.

What: Baltimore Press Conference -- Activists call for City Council to pass Ordinance requiring health and safety studies on oil trains in Baltimore.

When: Tuesday, June 14th, 2016. 11:30 AM.

Where: Southwest Corner of Pearlstone Park. Closest corner of Preston Street and Howard Street.

Who: The rally is sponsored by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Clean Water Action

Visuals: Activists will carry a replica “oil train” that reads “Stop Oil Trains.” An image of the blast zone in Baltimore, and a view of the tunnel where the derailment occurred next to MICA.

Background: Baltimore faces the threat of dangerous crude oil trains through the Howard Street Tunnel. Analysis by the Baltimore Sun shows that the oil industry has shipped over 100 million gallons of crude oil to Baltimore for barge-based transit to East Coast refineries in the past two years. These trains largely transport Bakken crude oil that is far more volatile and flammable than conventional oil -- five derailments and explosions occurred in North America in the first five months of 2015. Oil trains also pose a threat to public health, as high levels of toxic air pollutants like benzene seep out of the train cars.

As a result of pressure from local activists, Baltimore City Council President Jack Young introduced Ordinance 16-0621, an ordinance to study public health and safety impacts oil trains pose on Baltimore. The bill was introduced in January, with the full city council cosponsoring the bill, but is currently stuck in committee. Community leaders and organizations are calling for the City Council to swiftly pass this bill before another derailment occurs.

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Clean Water Action is a national citizens’ organization with 53,000 members in Maryland, working for clean, safe, affordable water; the prevention of health-threatening pollution, the creation of environmentally safe jobs and businesses; and the empowerment of people to make democracy work: www.cleanwateraction.org/md

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the biggest and oldest grassroots organization dedicated to fighting climate change in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. CCAN is building a powerful movement to shift our region away from climate-harming fossil fuels and to clean energy solutions: www.chesapeakeclimate.org.

Jennifer Kunze
410-235-8808
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