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Southeast Texas activists concerned about a possible train meltdown

Proponents fear that if the Canadian Pacific-Kansas City Southern merger happens, it will increase the number of trains carrying hazardous materials through SETX.

PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Port Arthur environmentalists toured the city on Monday, visiting areas they say are heavily polluted by oil refineries.

These areas in southeast Texas may soon be impacted even more by a possible merger between two railroad companies.

In 2022, two of the country’s largest railroads, Canadian Pacific (CP) and Kansas City Southern (KCS), lobbied the federal government to approve their multibillion-dollar megamerger, according to a Seeker Strategies press release.

The recent derailment of the Norfolk Southern (NS) train in eastern Palestine, Ohio has environmentalists concerned about a possible train meltdown.

Two thousand residents were forced to evacuate eastern Palestine so emergency crews could conduct a controlled release and burn materials that “could potentially explode, causing deadly shrapnel and toxic fumes,” Ohio Governor Mike said. DeWine.

A similar incident in Port Arthur or a major urban area would be “catastrophic,” according to the release.

Southeast Texas advocates say they fear that if this meltdown happens, it will increase the number of trains carrying hazardous materials.

These tracks pass through family-friendly communities of Southeast Texas.

The “Toxic Train Tour” was organized by environmentalist John Beard, who has lived in Port Arthur all his life and worked in the oil industry.

Beard now devotes his time to tackling environmental issues with his non-profit ‘Port Arthur Community Action Network’.

During Monday’s tour, Beard and about 10 others stopped at the gates of the Valero Refinery in Port Arthur, the Holland train marshalling yard, and a few neighborhoods on Port Arthur’s north end.

At each stop, Beard demonstrated what products were made and the negative impacts they could have on the environment and families.

For this reason, Beard strongly opposes a merger between Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern.

“What they want to do is grow these exports, so they can make more money at a time when they’re already making record profits,” Beard said. “It’s insane. This also means needlessly sacrificing communities like mine and let’s say it has to stop and it shouldn’t even happen.”

Beard says if the merger happens, it could carry 120 car trains passing through Southeast Texas communities at least five times a day.

Some tour residents say they disagree with the merger.

“My main concern is when you mentioned this earlier was that we don’t have an action plan in place and so if a train were to derail I wouldn’t know the first thing I need to do to protect my family from any hazardous chemicals on the train said resident Terry Hadley.

Canadian Pacific released a statement to 12News regarding the potential rail merger:

Railroads, including CP, are legally obligated to transport hazardous materials as part of their common carrier obligations, under reasonable terms and conditions, and to do so in compliance with all applicable laws, including safety and environmental protection regulations.

We continually strive to make the transportation of hazardous materials and other cargo as safe as possible by meeting or exceeding applicable industry standards and regulations, investing in our network infrastructure, implementing advanced technologies to promote safety, and working with our customers to continuously improve the safety of their tank cars. CP has led the industry with the lowest train accident frequency rate in North America for 17 consecutive years, demonstrating the effectiveness of our efforts to improve public safety and protect the environment.

As part of its environmental impact statement on the proposed combination of CP and Kansas City Southern, the Surface Transportation Board evaluated the risk of hazardous materials accidents that could result from the CP-KCS merger. The agency’s Office of Environmental Analysis said it “expects the number of releases of hazardous materials to remain low along rail lines and at rail yards.” The report stated, “The OEA anticipates that any potential increase in the number of releases along segments of rail lines on the combined CPKC network would be partially offset by a reduction in the number of releases along other rail lines owned and operated by other rail companies. Furthermore, to the extent that hazmat transport could be diverted from truck to rail as a result of the proposed acquisition, the total number of releases could decrease because rail transport is generally safer than truck transport.” The EIS describes that “both CP and KCS have established hazmat protocols, training, and emergency response practices that address emergency preparedness, prevention, and response. These plans identify the resources and procedures available to respond to a potential incident involving hazardous materials”.

12News did not receive a statement from Kansas City Southern in time for this release.

Data from the Association of American Railroads states that 99.9% of all shipments of dangerous materials reach their destination without incident.

Since 2012, the rate of hazmat accidents has decreased by 55 percent, and over the past 10 years, less than 1 percent of all train accidents have resulted in a hazmat release, according to data.

Also on 12NewsNow.com…

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