Bakken Crude in the Heart of the City

North Dakota is producing about a million barrels of low flash point crude oil a day from the Bakken oil fracture wills.  Hundreds of rail tanker cars travel through the heart of downtown Spokane.  Spokane is a railroad choke point for rail lines spanning from east to west.  The BNSF and Union Pacific tracks run through the Spokane business district and over a high bridge (from which some rail car fell in the 90’s) over Latah Creek going west.  Oil tankers not only pass through downtown Spokane, they are parked in downtown Spokane.  On two occasions in the last 4 days I have seen a tanker unit train idling on the tracks in the heart of the city, spanning the length of the central business core, and several other trains with tankers making up a larger share of the cars on the trains doing the same.

Is there a danger?  The danger is great, it cannot be denied.  In Canada tanker cars derailed and exploded killing 47 people in a small town.  What would happen in Spokane?

Importantly, what can a charter city like that of Spokane protect itself from the dangers of these shipments of lethal commodities?  Those who have the foremost duty regarding the safety of the city are the people and elected officials of the city.

But, what can truly be done?

The Spokesman – Review is following the story; get started:  Prepping for Disaster.  The S-R is following the story, there is much more, and it can be found and followed by asking for email updates at the paper.  Go to

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