Thursday June 9, 2016 •
[Bellingham, WA] Stand released estimates today of the number of Washington and Oregon schools and students in the oil train blast zone, the one-mile evacuation area in the event of an oil train derailment and fire. The estimates are part of a new report Washington and Oregon Schools and Students in the Oil Train Blast Zone that details the potential threat from an oil train derailment and explosion and the long-term health threat from living close to oil train traffic.
In June 2014 Stand (formerly ForestEthics) released the blast zone map tool, which uses rail industry data and Google maps to allow users to see where any address in the US or Canada is in relation to oil train routes. The estimates released today are based on the blast zone map and K-12 public and private school location and population data from the US Department of Education:
Oregon schools in the blast zone: 284
Washington schools in the blast zone: 464
Total NW schools in the blast zone: 748
Oregon students in the blast zone: 101,334
Washington students in the blast zone: 158,364
Total NW students in the blast zone: 259,698
“The Union Pacific oil train that derailed and exploded in Mosier was 250 yards from a school filled with young students who heard and felt the explosion,” says Matt Krogh, Stand extreme oil campaign director. “No student, no family should have to live with that experience. President Obama must ban oil trains -- they are simply too dangerous for the rails. Governors Inslee and Brown must deny permits and leases for oil projects that would mean more trains in Oregon and Washington.”
The new report details emergency response guidelines and quotes from multiple emergency officials, including the fire chief in Mosier, who recognize that there is no fighting an oil train fire.
“Oil and rail companies leave emergency response in the hands of municipal fire departments,” says Krogh. “But burning oil tank cars cannot be contained. It was luck and a windless day alone that kept the Mosier incident from turning tragic.”
Stand is highly critical of the federal train safety regulations and is calling for a moratorium on oil trains and a series of immediate state actions to stop new oil train infrastructure.
“The Federal Railroad Administration and the railroads need to explain the routing choices they make through cities, towns and sensitive areas,” says Krogh. “With so many kids and communities at risk, President Obama and Congress are on the hook to take immediate action.”
In September 2015, Stand released estimates of the number of schools and school children in the blast zone nationally.
Number of US schools in the blast zone: 14,848
Number of US students in the blast zone: 5,700,000
Schools and student population data is drawn from Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics: Private School Universe Survey (PSS): Public-Use Data File User’s Manual for School Year 2011–12 and Documentation to the NCES Common Core of Data Public Elementary/ Secondary School Universe Survey: School Year 2013–14. Population counts are derived from the 2005-2012 American Community Survey, linked to 2010 US Census data.