Crude oil trains pose a threat to local communities

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Posted: Jul 8, 2014 6:43 PM by Alexa Vogue
Updated: Jul 8, 2014 6:43 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: railroad, Grosse Tete, Pointe Coupee, Bakken, Crude Oil

BATON ROUGE - People who live along the Union Pacific rail line say they are concerned that nobody will release information about when oil trains will pass their homes.

The state won't disclose the information to them at the railroad's request, but first responders will soon receive the information.

Residents are concerned because these oil shipments are flammable and town leaders said they put communities at risk. Oil trains carry explosive Bakken crude-oil roll through Louisiana four to six times a day. After four trains derailed elsewhere in North America, some say it's only a matter of time before the same thing happens here.

"If anything were to happen it would be drastic," said Laouren Lemoine, who lives less than 100 feet from the Pacific Union tracks in Grosse Tete. The Bakken Oil trains pass right by her backyard. "It's definitely a concern for us and I hope they can keep it as safe as they can."

Paul Pinsonat is the Fire Chief in Pointe Coupee Parish, and said if a train were to derail he would be one of the first on the scene.

"Anything that's transported through here by rail, we want to know about it," Pinsonat said. "We want to know what's in a tank."

Recently, Union Pacific trained first responders in local parishes to prepare them in case anything were to happen.

"To have something like that happen here, that'd be horrifying," said Michael Chauffe, Mayor of Grosse Tete. "Everyone is concerned, I don't live next to the tracks and I'm concerned."

The federal government is working on new regulations for the tank cars that carry the oil, a design that may be less prone to punctures and explosions. Plus, the state says some officials in local parishes will soon be informed of when the trains pass.

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