In response to your story [Winlock turns down resolution calling for oil-by-rail reforms], may I suggest that the Winlock City Council could use a little educating about the real risks posed by transporting crude oil by rail? Are the council members aware that 47 people were killed in just such a derailment in Quebec Canada in July of 2013? And are they aware that the Bakken crude oil contained in those tankers is highly flammable and explosive? (NYTimes.com Jan. 25 2014) I suggest that the council members and citizens of Winlock would be well served by googling "oil train derailments" and studying the issue. This is a practice that has increased dramatically in recent years as a way for the industry to avoid the expense and complicated building and environmental processes required to construct pipelines, and is not a proven safe method of transporting crude oil.
Councilman Mummert's position that" calling for higher standards for oil trains might place Winlock in a political struggle it does not need to be a part of" is ludicrous and illustrates his obvious political timidity. It also makes me wonder--does he represent the people of Winlock who live and work in a city traversed by oil trains daily, or is he simply interested in his own political aspirations? He is also quoted as saying that "in the event of a derailment such companies would already be on the hook for any financial losses suffered by or within the city..." The "costs" of a derailment could be much more devastating than financial losses. Winlock is a small town, there are numerous homes and businesses adjacent to the tracks, and a derailment of oil tankers in our community could result in the loss of human lives, properties and environmental integrity that would be tragic and irreplaceable.
The other issue that the people of Winlock will face is the increased rail traffic that will surely follow the building of new refineries and transfer stations in areas served by the same rails that run through our town. Such increased traffic will surely affect our mobility and quite possibly our property values if people do not feel safe living in rail side communities.
I am disappointed that the only council member that had any reservations about voting down the resolution was Sam Patrick, but his concern was not for the safety of our residents, rather he was "more concerned with finding a way to produce income from the trains coming through the city."
In closing I would like to state that I believe the city council of Winlock has taken the most short-sighted, uneducated and politically weak position they could have by choosing not to stand with numerous communities in Washington who are calling for higher standards for crude oil transport by rail through their own cities.