Monday, December 29, 2014

Take the "A" Bomb

They really are a scree-um. Lake County has been railroaded. The accelerating volume of hazardous material passing through Lake County via rail has caught the attention of the Daily Herald:
A proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Transportation to update older hazmat tank cars (dubbed DOT-111s) that carry highly flammable liquids like ethanol and crude oil is under consideration and could be finalized in 2015. The intent is to prevent breaches of older tank cars, reflecting national concerns given the increase in oil trains and deadly high-profile derailments near Rockford and Quebec in 2009 and 2013, respectively. Many derailments, however, fly under the radar.
Suburbs have dodged a bullet so far with hazmat derailments -- so far
As luck would have it, your LakeCountyEye was stuck at a train crossing (and with an unplanned hour or two to kill) -- so to get the low-down, made a call to Dr. I.M. Bhatschidtkhrazzi, Professor of Loco Motion at the College of Lake County.

"Ya" said Dr. Bhatschidtkhrazzi, "Lake County has more tracks than the Florida Dog Racing Commission."

But how safe are those tracks? Your LakeCountyEye wanted to know.

"The question isn't how safe. The question is, in case of a derailment, who is culpable." Dr. Bhatschidtkhrazzi then posted this Daily Herald story on Instagram:
"The vast majority of tank cars are owned by shippers or railway-rolling-stock leasing companies who are responsible for the maintenance and qualification of their privately owned equipment -- not railways," Canadian National Railway spokesman Patrick Waldron said.
Mistakes, equipment issues pose serious threats with rail-related hazmat
"Hehe." chuckled Dr. Bhatschidtkhrazzi. "If one of those old tankers goes tick-tick-tick-BOOM, don't blame the railways, it's not their fault."

Unwelcome news for the LakeCountyEye legal dept.

"The tracks that cross Lake County have an evacuation zone, mandated by the US DOT." continued Dr. Bhatschidtkhrazzi. "Anyone living within half a mile of these rails is advised to map an escape route. Try to avoid going over slow train crossings."

Your LakeCountyEye made a mental note.

"Here is a startling statistic published by the NTSB: If all the railroad tracks in Lake County were laid end-to-end along the Equator," read Dr. Bhatschidtkhrazzi, "that would be a good thing."

Your LakeCountyEye was down with that. Did Dr. Bhatschidtkhrazzi have any parting advice before the crossing gate went up?

"Tell your operatives to leave their firecrackers and firearms at home on New Years Eve. And celebrate the New Year near a rail crossing. Chances are there will be plenty of fireworks."

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