BALTIMORE (WJZ) — This past summer, tanker cars derailed in the Howard Street Tunnel under Baltimore.
They weren’t carrying oil, but because oil is a common cargo “We want a risk assessment done because these trains travel under 40 schools in Baltimore,” says Ulysses Archie, a city resident.READ MORE: Colin Powell, Military Leader And First Black US Secretary Of State, Dies After Complications From COVID-19
Explosions and fires have killed people in oil train derailments. Those worried it could happen in Baltimore say thousands are at risk.
“About 165,000 Baltimore residents are currently in what is known as the blast zone, which is the mile-long radius along the tracks where these trains travel,” says Jamshid Bakhtiari, of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
A coalition of groups went to city hall, pushing a bill to study the risks posed by oil trains.
“Our neighborhood is surrounded by train tracks,” says Keisha Allen, who lives in Westport. “How are you going to get into the neighborhood in the event there’s a derailment and there’s injuries or fatalities? How do the survivors get out and where are we going?”
There are federal rules for trains carrying over a million gallons of oil.READ MORE: Maryland's Leaders & Residents React To Colin Powell's Death
“To disclose what they’re transporting, when they’re transporting it, and also to have a disaster plan,” says Michael Runnels, associate professor of law and social responsibility Loyola University.
While the bill seeks a study of the risks of oil trains, for some there’s already a solution.
“Oil trains should not pass through residential areas,” says Rebecca Ruggles, of the Maryland Environmental Health Network. “That’s the bottom line. They’re just too dangerous.”
That solution, however, is likely beyond the city’s control.
Recently, a city council committee took testimony on an oil train study, but adjourned without voting on the bill.MORE NEWS: 'Thought It Was My Body, My Choice': Northrop Grumman Employees Protest Vaccine Mandate