California must put more safety measures in place to prevent train oil spills: report

California must put more safety measures in place to prevent train oil spills: report

Given the surge in crude oil shipments, California needs to ensure more safety inspections and better emergency response capabilities, according to a just released state government report.

The report by California's Interagency Rail Safety Working Group also stresses that the Golden State needs more information from railway companies to mitigate chances of any accident involving trains carrying crude oil.

More safety measures needed to be placed to prepare for oil spills as the amount of oil imported into the state by trains increased more than 500 per cent last year.

The number of oil spills from trains has also increased drastically over the past few years. The report says that California recorded a total of 182 oil spills during 2013, nearly 100 per cent up from 98 in 2010. However, the state has so far not experienced a tragedy like Quebec's last year powerful explosion of an oil train, which killed 47 people and injured many more.

As several oil trains travel through remote areas of the state, such as the northern Sierra Nevada's Feather River Canyon, the report recommends the state to set up a hazardous material response teams capable of quickly reaching those areas. The report also points out that the existing staffing level is seriously inadequate.

Commenting on the report, California Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) said, "I commend the Brown administration for recognizing that more measures are needed to protect against the local hazards posed by crude oil shipments by rail."

The Rail Safety Working Group was assigned with a task to suggest ways to protect California from serious accidents by Governor Jerry Brown in January this year. Some of the report's recommendations echo ideas already put forward by Gov. Brown.

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