Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Another Train Explosion - Another Reason To Stop Fracking!
The scenes emanating from Fayette Co., West Virginia resembled iconic images of Dante's Inferno as portrayed in several works of art. Giant fireballs lurching into the skies, forcing the evacuation of two WVa towns as another CSX owned train, bound for Yorktown, Virginia suffered a derailment (as several before) with the explosion of the kerogen it was carrying.
This had originated in the Bakken oil shale fields of North Dakota and not the first incident to involve Bakken-crude, which kerogen is some of the most explosive stuff on Earth. Recall last April another Bakken-carrying CSX train derailed near Lynchburg, VA. In December, 2013, a massive fireball erupted over Casselton, ND and in July, 2013, 47 people died after a train carrying Alberta kerogen crude derailed in the middle of a town in Québec.
In the current incident, the Governor of West Virginia has declared a state of emergency. Also, some of the kerogen effluent poured into the Kanawha River, forcing the Montgomery, WVa water treatment plant to shut down because the river is the source of town water. No one in his or her right mind would want to imbibe kerogen-laced water.
What is kerogen? Richard Heinberg explained it in his recent book, Snake Oil: How Fracking's False Promise Imperils Our Future', page 110 ):
"Kerogen is not oil. It is better thought of as an oil precursor that was insufficiently cooked by geologic processes. If we want to turn it into oil, we have to finish the process nature started: that involves heating the kerogen to a high temperature for a long time. And that in turn takes energy- lots of it, whether supplied by hydroelectricity, nuclear power plants, natural gas, or the kerogen itself. "
Being an "oil precursor" means it's much more volatile and doesn't take much to explode, say from a collision or derailment. None of this has been taken into consideration by the National Transportation Safety Board in its paltry "recommendations" which are more a nod to the energy industry and train operators like CSX.
In fact, what the latest incident shows is that this crap shouldn't be transported at all. Period! Indeed as one commentator observed on Chris Hayes' show it "ought to be left in the ground". It's too damned dangerous and the killing of those 47 forlorn Canadians ought to have proven that. If that had been an actual terror attack you can bet your sweet bippy no more trains would be running anywhere out of an abundance of caution. Yet because we are so brainwashed by the Neoliberal business before people model, our leaders turn a blind eye -- we must let those trains keep on rolling to keep the $$$ pouring in!
Oil shale fracking is a symptom of diminishing quality supplies of oil, that of high EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) not oil abundance. Anyone with half a brain would know that, which is why Richard Heinberg refers to it as "snake oil". It simply can't deliver the energy solution promised and in fact its continued use will result in ever lower quotas of useful energy- at ever higher cost.
As Heinberg adds - following the previous quote (ibid):
"Therefore the EROEI in processing oil shale is bound to be pitifully low. According to the best study to date, by Cutler Cleveland and Peter O'Connor, the EROEI for oil shale production would be about 2:1. That tells us that oil from kerogen will be far more expensive than regular crude oil."
This compares to the average of 15:1 when we used "light sweet" crude - not this crap which is closer to coal tar.
Folks, our energy response shows desperation, not any resourcefulness. This is what the Neoliberals won't tell you. They instead want you to believe we're on the verge of a "New Age" of energy bounty with little cost to the citizen. Do not buy it for a second! There are major costs - to our air, water, soil and now to whole communities which stand to be blown up and evacuated if one of the trains carrying this stuff happens to derail. Likely taking lives and towns' water supplies with it.
We wouldn't tolerate terrorists getting away with this shit and we shouldn't tolerate it from the damned frack-happy assholes seeking to send our country and its citizens into perdition. We need to hold our leaders to account on this too, and get rid of all those who put the oil industry's interests before ours!