Crude Oil

AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File

Gov. Tom Wolf has hired a specialist in railroad engineering and safety to help limit the risk of a potential oil train derailment on Pennsylvania's rail freight system.

Wolf's administration said Tuesday that the hiring of Allan Zarembski of the University of Delaware is for three months at $38,000.

Terence Wright / Flickr

  Western Pennsylvania gas prices have increased within the past few weeks, but before too much panic sets in, Chelsea Pompeani of AAA East Central says this rise isn’t unusual for the time of year.

The director of public affairs said gas prices normally increase during spring because the price of crude oil rises.

Preparing For The Worst, Delco First Responders Simulate Oil Train Accident

Mar 25, 2015
Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The increasing number of rail cars carrying crude oil through Pennsylvania means a rising risk of accidents. Recent derailments caused trains to explode and incinerate areas along tracks in Illinois and West Virginia, threatening waterways.

So far, Pennsylvania has been lucky. Within the past year and a half, oil trains traveling through the state derailed in Philadelphia, Vandergrift and McKeesport, but none of them exploded.

Back in the sumer of 2013, that wasn’t the case in the Quebec village of Lac Megantic, where an oil train crash killed 47 people. Five bodies were never recovered, having been incinerated.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Public safety officials from around the Pittsburgh region joined U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) at the Allegheny County Courthouse today as he announced his support for a bill that would form a national train derailment task force.

The Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs and Safety Evaluation, or RESPONSE ACT, would create a new set of training and resource recommendations for derailment first responders. It would be a subcommittee under the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

1.5 Million at Risk in PA for Crude Oil Derailment

Mar 2, 2015
Photo by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

In Pennsylvania, nearly 1.5 million people are in potential danger if a train carrying crude oil derails and catches fire, according to a PublicSource analysis. That is about one in every nine Pennsylvanians.

Essential Pittsburgh: Crude Oil Transport Safety Concerns

Feb 25, 2015
Judy and Ed / Flickr

Despite safety improvements, there seems to be an increase in the number of fuel train accidents. So what safety improvements are needed? What has been learned from the recent accident in West Virginia

Reporter Jon Schmitz has been covering this issue for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He says that although there is universal agreement that the old car designs are unsafe, recent accidents have proven the new CPC 1232 designs are also insufficient. 

Oil Trains On PA Tracks Getting More Scrutiny After West Virginia Explosion

Feb 20, 2015
AP Photo/ Office of the Governor of West Virginia, Steven Wayne Rotsch,File

The fiery oil train derailment in West Virginia on President’s Day, which forced the evacuation of nearby residents and sent Bakken crude into the Kanawha River, has environmentalists and local lawmakers taking a more critical look at the oil trains running across Pennsylvania’s tracks.

AP Photo/Office of the Governor of West Virginia, Steve Wayne Rotsch

Speed doesn't appear to have been a factor in an oil train derailment in southern West Virginia, a federal transportation official said Thursday.

The CSX train was going 33 mph at the time of Monday's crash in the town of Mount Carbon.

AP Photo/Chris Tilley

Topics on today's Essential Pittsburgh include the West Virginia train derailment, and ski resorts near and far  

Oil Train Safety   

An oil tanker derailment and fire in West Virginia is raising questions about the apparent failure of safer tank cars to prevent an explosion. 

Dave Mistich, Digital Editor/Coordinator for West Virginia Public Broadcasting offers an update on how residents have been effected by the derailment,

West Virginia Oil Train Derailment Was 1 of 3 With Safer Tank Cars

Feb 18, 2015
AP Photo/Chris Tilley

The fiery derailment of a train carrying crude oil in West Virginia is one of three in the past year involving tank cars that already meet a higher safety standard than what federal law requires — leading some to suggest even tougher requirements that industry representatives say would be costly.

Fires burned for hours Tuesday after a train carrying 109 tankers of crude oil derailed in a snowstorm alongside a West Virginia creek, sending fireballs into the sky and threatening the nearby water supply.

Hundreds of families were evacuated and two water treatment plants were shut down after dozens of the cars left the tracks and 19 caught fire Monday afternoon, creating shuddering explosions and intense heat.

Crude Oil Train Derailment Concerns in Pittsburgh

Aug 19, 2014
Elias Schewel / Flickr

More than 40 percent of Pittsburgh's residents live in areas that would be at risk if a train carrying crude oil through the city derails and catches fire.

WESA content partner PublicSource created a map tracking the route of the rail lines known to carry crude oil in the city.

Reporter Natasha Khan says trains are more common in the city and its neighborhoods than people may realize. She also says that city officials are not prepared to handle a large scale accident, such as the one in Quebec last year.

What You Should Know About Crude Oil On Trains Coming Through PA

Jul 13, 2014
Association of American Railroads; graphic: Natasha Khan and Alexandra Kanik / PublicSource

More trains carrying crude oil to East Coast refineries mean a greater risk of accidents. Derailments in Pennsylvania and throughout the country are a signal to some that an accident could be disastrous.

Why is more crude oil moving through Pennsylvania?

ucy Schaly / Beaver County Times via PublicSource

Walking with his daughter from a Friday night football game in New Brighton, Pa., Fire Chief Jeffrey Bolland heard what sounded like a jet overhead and saw an orange glow in the distance.

Twenty-three rail tank cars of ethanol derailed on a bridge above the Beaver River on that night in 2006, setting off an explosion that burned for 48 hours. Some of the black, torpedo-shaped cars tumbled into the river.

No one was injured, but 150 people were evacuated and a nearly multi-million dollar cleanup ensued in the city about 30 miles Northwest of Pittsburgh.