Newburgh Derailment Could Happen in Bergen County



Three locomotives and 14 train cars carrying toxic materials derailed off CSX tracks yesterday in Newburgh. There were no injuries and no toxins spilled, but the incident raises further concerns with our aging train infrastructure, especially because CSX often carries hazardous material such as the highly explosive, volatile Bakken crude oil. Those trains, which pass throughout New Jersey, including 11 Bergen County towns, have led to several fiery derailments throughout North America. Whether by rail, barge, or pipeline, the Sierra Club believes Bakken crude transport is unsafe and this derailment shows the threat of potential disaster. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club released the following statement:


“The CSX derailment that occurred in Newburgh is a huge warning bell that these trains are unsafe and a threat to our communities. The CSX trains that were derailed here because of unsafe bridges also carry the most flammable oil on the market, Bakken oil into New Jersey. The people in Newburgh are lucky these trains were not carrying crude oil because if they were it would have been a disaster of epic proportions. In our state, there are at least 50 Bakken oil trains a week passing through our state and many more coming each day. What is even worse is that they are going over unsafe bridges in Bergen County that are dilapidated and falling apart. If one of those derailments happened here in New Jersey, which is the most densely populated state in the nation, it would be a disaster threatening thousands of people. What happened in Newburgh could have happened over the bridges on Overpeck Creek in Ridgefield and Teaneck. This shows why the entire rail system is old and needs immediate repair. Now that the Transportation Trust Fund has been passed, these bridges being fixed need to be a top priority.”


“Even though there are proposals to make these trains safe, with all the derailments that have been happening around the country, they are clearly unsafe at any speed. That’s why Sierra Club is in federal Court to try to block these trains from being on our rail lines. We cannot wait until another Lac Megantic for the government to take action. In the past ten years, 10 oil trains have exploded killing 47 people. We must stop playing Russian roulette with these ticking time bombs on wheels, dangerous bridges and our communities. Now with the upcoming Trump Administration, we may see an increase in oil bomb trains and pipelines crossing through our communities. That is why we must fight back and ban these dangers to protect public health and safety.”


“Bakken crude oil is not only the most flammable, it’s the most explosive, and no matter how you ship it there could be a serious threat to our water supply. Many of these trains run through major water supply areas and a spill could wipe out the New Jersey water supply for months to come. One quart of oil contaminates one million gallons of water and one rail car carries 34,500 gallons of oil. Therefore fourteen Bakken oil rail cars could have polluted 483,000 gallons of water. The Oradell Reservoir alone contains 5.7 billion gallons water. If a spill were to occur, it would completely containment the reservoir. This would wipe out the water supply of Bergen County for weeks, or months until it’s cleaned up. We are playing Russian roulette with these train cars and that’s we need to ban these pipe bombs on wheels now.”


“What happened in Newburgh could happen here with far worse consequences. At any speed, transporting Bakken crude is a ticking time bomb. This derailment raises oil train concerns and shows why we need to do more with inspections and get these cars off the road. We should keep Bakken crude where it belongs, in the ground. Instead we should be investing in renewable energy that will not damage our environment, put the community at risk, and will help to combat climate change. There is currently a dangerous proposal to build a 178 mile Bakken oil Pipeline called Pilgrim through the Ramapo and the Highlands also putting residents at risk. Whether it is traveling by rail, barge or pipeline, it is a disaster waiting to happen endangering our families, property and environment. Unless we act, to ban these cars, our luck may run out.”


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