INSTITUTE INDEX: The growing oil train threat

A protest held last year in Wisconsin drew attention to the threat of oil trains traveling in densely populated areas. (Photo by Light Brigading via Flickr.)

Train carloads of oil and ethanol expected to be hauled by rail in the U.S. this year: nearly 900,000

Since 2008, percent increase in train carloads of oil being hauled in the U.S. due to the oil shale drilling boom, which produces a particularly explosive product: 4,000

Number of Americans living within about 500 yards of an oil train line, which deliver product to refineries on both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico: 16 million

Oil train derailments the U.S. government predicts will happen this year: about 15

Over the next two decades: 207

Average number of "higher consequence" oil train derailments the government expects per year: 10

Number of people who could be killed in just one of these "higher consequence" accidents: 200

Estimated amount in damages such an incident could cause: $6 billion

Number of tank cars of crude oil hauled by the CSX train that derailed in rural Mount Carbon, West Virginia on Feb. 16 while headed to an oil-shipping depot in Yorktown, Virginia: 107

Number of the railcars that caught fire in that disaster, which occurred along the the Kanawha River: 19

Number of days the fire burned: 4

Number of people evacuated from the area: about 1,000

Number of homes destroyed: 1

Gallons of crude oil spilled into the James River last year after an oil train derailed near downtown Lynchburg, Virginia: 30,000

Gallons of crude spilled into wetlands near the rural, majority African-American community of Aliceville, Alabama in a November 2013 oil train derailment: nearly 750,000

Number of months later that crude oil was still oozing into the wetland, which a reporter described as smelling "like a garage": 4

Number of people killed in a July 2013 oil train explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec after flaming oil engulfed a crowded bar and restaurant on a Saturday night: 47

Number of victims whose remains were never found because the intense heat vaporized them: 5

Date by which new federal oil train regulations were supposed to be finalized and implemented by regulators: 1/15/2015

Number of days before the deadline that the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration posted documents to its website related to recent meetings with oil and rail industry lobbyists, who have objected to the additional costs: 2

Month to which the rollout of the regulations has been pushed back: 5/2015

(Click on figure to go to source.)