Secrecy of Oil-by-Train Shipments Causes Concern Across the U.S. Crude

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By Russell Gold

Emergency responders in Cincinnati know that trains full of crude oil have been rumbling through their city; they can see mile-long chains of black tank cars clacking across bridges over the Ohio River.

But they don’t know enough to feel prepared for the kinds of fiery accidents that have occurred over the last 10 months after oil-train derailments. How many of the 100 trains that pass through residential neighborhoods and warehouse districts daily are carrying oil, for example? And when crude is carried, is it the kind that federal investigators have linked to explosions?

“We have no idea when trains are moving through and when they aren’t,” said Thomas Lakamp, special operations chief for the Cincinnati Fire Department. “The railroads aren’t required to report to us.”

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