Officials Prepare for Oil Train Fire

As many as 46 oil trains roll through Philadelphia each week.

Railroad crews work on one of five derailed tank cars on a bridge over the Schuylkill River, January in Philadelphia. The accident Monday followed a series of derailments involving Bakken Shale crude from North Dakota including one that exploded in Canada, killing 47 people. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Railroad crews work on one of five derailed tank cars on a bridge over the Schuylkill River, January in Philadelphia. The accident followed a series of derailments involving Bakken Shale crude from North Dakota including one that exploded in Canada, killing 47 people. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Philadelphia emergency officials are preparing for a fiery oil train disaster, NBC Philadelphia reports.

An oil train derailment on the Schuylkill River bridge earlier this year spurred local authorities into action, including a recent training exercise that included seven government agencies, CSX railroad, and the South Philly refinery.

“It’s critically important that we do it here in a simulated scenario rather than try to figure all of this out in an actual emergency,” said Joe Sullivan, chief inspector of Homeland Security and Counterterrorism with the Philadelphia Police Department.

As many as 75 trains hauling crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota roll through Pennsylvania each week on their way to refineries on the East Coast. In Philadelphia, weekly crude-by-rail traffic can reach up to 46 trains.

“A train derailment, while scary and not something that we see every day, we have the tools here,” said Samantha Phillips, director of Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management.

But there might still be reasons to worry. Reports suggest that Bakken oil is more flammable than other types of oil, and indeed, the Bakken-oil trains have been connected with several fatal and ferocious fires in the last couple of years. [NBC 10]