More than 15 trains per week haul oil from North Dakota through Washington, according to records released by the Washington Military Department last week. But after high-profile derailments of oil trains in Quebec, Alabama and North Dakota made headlines in the past year, EarthFix reporters Ashley Ahearn and Tony Schick decided to look into the safety of crude oil rail transport in the Northwest.
EarthFix has previously reported on response times to hazardous material spills and community efforts to prepare for derailments. But in a new report out Wednesday, Ahearn and Schick focus on the safety culture of the BNSF Railway, one of the biggest transporters of oil through Washington. The reporters talked with former BNSF Railway employees who said they felt discouraged from reporting safety concerns or admitting fatigue while operating trains. Ahearn and Schick will tell us about their reporting process, what they found and how oil-train derailments can be prevented.