Interactive Oil Rail Line Map Unveiled Ahead Of Week-Long Protests (VIDEO)

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Lac-Megantic, Quebec. (Photo courtesy of WikiMedia.)

As the July 6 anniversary of the oil train derailment that devastated downtown Lac-Megantic, Quebec approaches, Oil Change International has released an interactive map of all the rail routes carrying gas and oil across the U.S. and Canada to serve as a resource for what’s planned to be a week of protests commemorating the nearly four dozen people killed in the tragedy. The map offers a motley visual illustration of just how much oil is being transported by trains around the continent, from North Dakota to Texas and all the states in between, to the Northeast on down to the Gulf Coast — North America is literally one big gas and oil rail-line hash tag.

In a report related to the interactive map, Oil Change International concluded that gas and oil is gushing beyond the capabilities of regulators, stating that much of the increase is relying on over-exerting or expanding pipelines that are already at capacity, or adding entirely new pipelines to the system altogether.

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Oil Change International research director and report author Lorne Stockman said:

This analysis shows just how out of control the oil industry is in North America today. Regulators are unable to keep up with the industry’s expansion-at-any-cost mentality, and public safety is playing second fiddle to industry profits.

Meanwhile, those playing first fiddle have begun considering new requirements for tanker cars related to the gas and oil industry, building somewhat off of changes the rail industry adopted in October 2011. Federal regulators have Wonder-Twins-activated with the railroad and rail car industries, as well as the oil industry, in examining issues related to rail tanker accidents. The Department of Transportation is currently on track to make a formal proposal for new tanker car mandates this July, having just sent in a draft to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review at the end of April. Included in the proposal are likely details such as requirements for thicker hulls, more endurable head shields, insulating “jackets” and many other changes that may help in the event of an accident.

Day by day, however, local residents up, down, over and back along these rail lines have growing reason to be concerned. Dissent has reigned heaviest around the Port of Albany, N.Y. There, crude oil is transferred from trains to barges. Opposition has proven so adamant that local officials are even blocking plans for the expansion of the port facility.

Stockman also stated that communities are “waking up to the dangers of oil trains barreling through their backyards.” Folks see the ever-frequent accidents, the derailments, explosions, the leaks and fires and a grave look bubbles over their face — the reckoning with 230 train terminals across North America dealing with crude oil, functioning or in the process of being built.

Protests in memoriam for Lac-Megantic will be held across the continent from July 6 – 13. Groups such as the Sierra Club and 350.org will be demonstrating throughout the week. They declare that no method for transporting crude oil is worth the devastation it can cause (and the cost it can create) when accidents occur.