Disasters

Many States Hide Rail Hazmat Threats from Public at Companies' Behest

It's not like you can't figure these things out. Trains full of explosive crude oil, for example, may be obvious as a string of 100-odd identical black tankers rolls through populated areas. The number on the DOT-required diamond-shaped flammability placard on each car probably has the number 1257 on it. But it's not just crude oil that's an issue.

"Influence Game: Shaping Railroad Safety Rules"

"WASHINGTON — A string of fiery train derailments across the country has triggered a high-stakes but behind-the-scenes campaign to shape how the government responds to calls for tighter safety rules. Billions of dollars are riding on how these rules are written, and lobbyists from the railroads, tank car manufacturers and the oil, ethanol and chemical industries have met 13 times since March with officials at the White House and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration."

Source: AP, 07/14/2014

"Texas Law Reducing Dam Inspections Sparks Criticism"

"DALLAS -- Texas has stopped inspecting 44% of the dams in the state, following passage last year of a state law that exempted most privately owned dams from safety requirements. Now, as a drought dries up large portions of the Southwest, some dam-safety experts and officials are questioning the law, saying the dry spell is leaving webs of cracks along the surface of earthen dams that may make them weaker—and prone to triggering floods—when rains eventually fill them up again."

Source: Wall St. Journal, 07/14/2014

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