MDOT Rail Safety Report Greenwashes/Ducks Unresolved Rolling Pipeline Risks

On ..MDOT released its Rail safety  study directed by Governor Paul LePage immediately after the Lac Megantic tragedy.  The report is a classic of misdirection and green washing completely avoiding the many still unresolved issues of ” rolling pipeline safety” .  In Maine the term , “rolling pipeline” is inextricably linked to JD Irving.  The train that caused a nearly total devastation of tiny little Lac Megantic village and the trains that roll through Old Orchard, Portland, Yarmouth, Lewiston and Maine’s wilderness  all  carry Bakken crude from North Dakota and are all  bound for JD Irvings refinery in St. John, New Brunswick.  Indeed, JD Irving is the architect of the rolling pipeline system that allows Bakken from its isolated non pipeline served extraction and processing center in North Dakota to reach U.S. and Canadian refineries.  When Enbridge pipeline refused to accept Bakken  because of its corrosive and explosive qualities, not usually associated with crude, that pushed Bakken to a “rail only” distribution until  the issues with Bakken are more closely studied and addressed.

Also at the heart of Lac Megantic was the suitability of use of  old un retrofitted DOT-111’s known to explode and leak in derailments.  Retro fit is cheap and yet the industry has effectively and with determination rebuffed all FRA efforts to mandate retro fit or replacement of all DOT 111’s by a date certain.

And then in Maine we have a problem common to all Class II and Class III rail in rural areas all over America: old and failing track with shrinking markets and not enough business to keep them afloat.  That is especially true of the MMA rail including the 220 mile portion the State of Maine purchased  for $20 million after abandonment was approved by the FRA.  MDOT with help from our congressional delegation procured an additional $10 million TIGER grant intended to improve infrastructure and create jobs.  MDOT leased this back to JD Irving for $1 a year under the most unconscionable lease I have ever seen.   Among the outrageous provisions of this lease JD Irving may use equipment that is not recommended as safe by FRA and is not required to bid any of the work for maintenance and repairs or even use Maine companies for any wok it contracts.

MDOT Commisisoner Bernhardt and Deputy Commissioner Bruce Van Note have been very clear from the day of Lac Megantic that they consider rolling pipeline essential to  viability of the remaining privately owned rail systems serving Maine’s businesses..and JD Irvings.  Commissioner Bernhardt knows there is no believable way to assert that rolling pipeline is safe or that any Maine community these trains have been rolling through for almost two years is “safe”.  The world has declared, the FRA has declared that is simply not the case and that every aspect of “rolling pipeline” has to be studied closely and a much better safety program put in place.

The report does not address any aspect at all of the huge and still unresolved environmental and public risks of JD Irvings rolling pipeline.  It is basically a reaffirmation of the Commissioner Bernhardts determined silence on this issue.
The MDOT  report doesn’t even include   any one  of the following key areas of risk and concern concerning J D Irvings rolling pipeline
(a) the cause of the 3 Pan Am rolling pipeline derailments in Maine already
(b) FRA’s current   work and lack of answers on the rolling pipeline issue especially the use of DOT-111’s for Bakken
(c) the results of and details  of any of the defects noted in FRA inspection of Maine track
(d) the condition of the 220+ mile section of track Maine owns and leases to JD Irving for $1/yr.
In short, it totally ducks the rolling pipeline safety issue as the Commissioner has as a matter of policy from the outset.
The Commissioners position clearly remains that rolling pipeline is needed income for Maine’s frail rail system and that the public risks, including a Lac Megantic tragedy, are secondary to the income rolling pipeline might bring to the rail system.
The report and the Governors executive order are completely disingenuous in its blanket reassurance of rail safety.
It is important to bear in mind that Canada’s ability to respond and effect safety corrections is very different from ours in the U.S.  They license railroads so they can simply direct the terms and conditions of the license including insurance and bond requirements, capitalization, etc.  The FRA struggles with a much mired tenuous and indirect influence over what is essentially a self regulated industry. But even within this framework there are many opportunities, including the State Safety Option, that allow states to appropriate local input to local safety issues.  Our MDOT doesn’t participate in this program.  And of course a Governor or DOT Commissioner can always write to the FRA to express concerns.  My FOAA’s to MDOT have produced  o evidence of any written expression of concern about the very great risk so many Maine communities are exposed to for the sake of JD Irvings rolling pipeline.
We have a breather at the moment.  Bakken prices and foreign crude prices are too close in global markets to justify the extra cost of transportation  by rail cross country.  We may even have  along term reprieve because D Irvings off load station on the Hudson, in partnership with Buckeye, is now bringing Bakken to Irvings refinery via marine transport..much much cheaper than rail.
No question that Maine economic vitality requires a shift away from trucks and trucking which add as much as 40% to the price of any Maine product according to the 2010 Can Am report. All with any environmental sensibility support rail over trucks for Maine. We definitely do need a modern, reliable Class II and Class III rail system here in Maine.  But our Commissoner and our governor have to be willing to take a realistically hard look at whether we dare risk the easy immediate choice of rolling pipeline to keep us afloat until we have a better answer.
(Please see long chain of updates and links at end of post on MM&A underinsurance..I will try to bring those relevant to the background discussed here to this post as time permits)
Lindsay Newland Bowker, CPCU ARM Environmental Risk Manager
Bowker Associates Science & Research In The Public Interest
15 Cove Meadow Rd
Stonington, Maine 04681
October 19, 2013
Class I Railroad Rolling Pipeline Derailment In Edmonton

About lindsaynewlandbowker

Bowker Associates, Science & Research In The Public Interest, is an independent non profit providing self initiated pro bono analysis on key issues with a potential for massive adverse environmental impact . Bowker Associates has been an internationally recognized and cited voice in analysis of the Samarco failure, its consequence, and the possibilties for recovery. In 2017 we partnered with Daveid M. Chambers, a world leader in responsible mining, in our third joint work on the economics of tailings failures. Bowker, L.N.; Chambers, D.M. In the Dark Shadow of the Supercycle Tailings Failure Risk & Public Liability Reach All Time Highs. Environments 2017, 4, 75. A peer reviewed journal published investigation of the cowboy economics of the supercycle and the resulting escalation on the number and magnitude of catastrophic failures. In 2016 we parnered with Dave Chambers in our 2nd joint work together looking at root causes of failures at a conference . Bowker, L.N.; Chambers, D.M. Root Causes of Tailings Management Failures: The Severity of Consequence of Failures Attributed to Overtopping 1915–2015. In Proceedings of the Protections 2016, Fort Collins, CO, USA, 14 June 2016. [Google Scholar] In 2015 Bowker Associates collaborated with geophysicist David M. Chambers to recompile global authoritative accounts of significant TSF failures in recorded history and to analyze these data in the context of global mining economics 1910-2010 ( Risk, Economics and Public Liability of TSF Failures, Bowker/Chambers July 2015) The third annual update of this globally referenced and used compilation was just released at Researchgate. ( In 2014 Bowker Associates commissioned globally respected geophysicist and hydrogeologist Dr. David Chambers to undertake two technical works: (1) development of technical go no go criteria for vetting mine applications tp:// and (2) a case study of Maine's Bald Mountain, an un mined low grade high risk VMS deposit demonstrating the efficacy and accuracy of two risk assessment tools in vetting mine proposals In Maine, Bowker Associates has deeply engaged and been a public voice in the Searsport DCP LPG Tank, The Cianbro proposal for a Private East West Toll Road, JD Irvings rolling pipeline of Bakken crude to its plant in St. John and review of Phase II plans at The Callahan Superfund site in Brooksville, Maine, and Maine's revisitation of mining in statute and regulation... Our only “client”: is always “the pubic interest”. Our model is to focus on only one or two issues at a time so that we have a substantive command of the relevant field as our foundation for ongoing engagement. Our core work is in envirommental risk management, science and technology as well as bringing any available “best practices” models to the fore. The legal and regulatory history/best models are also a major thrust of our work in building and evaluating public policy. Director/Principal Lindsay Newland Bowker, CPCU, ARM is a recognized expert in Environmental Risk Management., Heavy Construction Risk Management and Marine and Transit Risks and has more than 3 decades of engagement in buiding public policy. Appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo to New York State Banking Board (served 1986-1996); President New York Chapter Chartered Property and Casualty Insurers; Environmental Committee, Risk and Insurance Management Society; Director, Convenor/Co-Chair Bermuda Market Briefing "From Captive to Cats" Hamilton Bermuda. Published Articles of Significance The Risk Economics and Public Liability of Tailings Facility Failures, co-authored with David M. Chambers, July 2015 Beyond. Polarization: Superfund Reform in Perspective, Risk & Insurance Managing Risk For Loss Prevention & Cost Control (Jan. 24, 1997). Lead Hazards and Abatement Technologies in Construction: A Risk Management Approach CPCU Journal 1997 Employee Leasing: Liability in Limbo Risk Management June 1 1997 Environmental Audit Privilege and the Public interest Risk & Insurance Managing Risk For Loss Prevention & Cost Control, April 1997 Asbestos:Holes In Abatement Policies Need To Be Plugged, Lloyd’s Environmental Risk International, May 1993 Editor Published Letters Evironmental Risk Management Beware of Facile Policies Like Fetal Protection Business Insurance 1995(?) High Court Review May Increase Sale of Bank Annuities Business Insurances August 8, 1995 Professional Profiles Protecting the Big Apple’s Core Managing Risk For Loss Prevention & Control December 1996 Major Career Highlights First rigorous analysis showing Relationship Between declining ore grades and TSF Failures of increasing consequence ( July 2015) FIrst Documentation that Gentrification Has Same Impacts as Unassisted Displacement from Urban Renewal Sites Direted Court Ordered EIS of FHA Mortgage Scandal Created Nation's First Homeownership Program for Low Income People (SHIP) Created Earliest Geographic Information Systems Using Defense Technology Developed By IBM Designed and Conducted Parallel Census Count to Show Systematic undercount in minority neighborhoods Documented Bias in ISO Territory Rating Plans for Private Passenger Auto Insurance Using ISO's own Rating Techniques Demonstrated Inherent Bias in Mortgage Policies of Banks With Inner City Branches Demonstrated that NY Telephones Plan for Area Code Split To accommodate anticipated cell phone demand was not efficient and would exhaust in 5 years ( which it did) Undertook First Systematic Evaluation of Child Protective Services Caseload Using Multi Variate Analyic Techniques Developed Child Protective Caseload Management and Tracking System (CANTS) and directed implementation in 4 client states including Illinois, Florida and New York Created and Ran Office of Risk Management for NYC DEP the Nations largest Water & Sewer Authority . Designed, Created and Administered Nation's First Owner Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP)for High Risk Tunneling Education Masters NYU Graduate School of Public Administration BSC New School For Social Research Maine Public Schools Deering High School
This entry was posted in Bakken Crude, bakken flammability, Enbridge 9 Pipeline Reversal, Energy East Pipeline, Irving OIL, JD Irving, Portland Montreal Pipeline, rolling pipeline. Bookmark the permalink.

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