BNSF invests in safety

By Vancouver Energy On July 21, 2016

The trains transporting oil to the proposed Vancouver Energy terminal will travel on tracks owned, maintained and operated by BNSF Railway. The rail company has a commitment to safety that goes above and beyond federal standards, as described in a recent op-ed in the Olympian.

John Lovenburg, vice president - environmental for BNSF Railway, writes that the company has made major investments in Washington State, including in its rail lines that run through the Columbia River Gorge.

We are continuously investing in new technologies and infrastructure to reduce risk. BNSF inspects its track more frequently than required by the FRA. Most crude oil routes on BNSF are inspected up to four times per week, more than twice the inspection frequency required by the FRA, and our busiest main lines can be inspected daily, which includes our route through the Columbia River Gorge. BNSF also has special detection technology along key routes on our network sending back thousands of messages daily as they monitor for early signs of potential problems that could cause premature equipment wear or failure. Detectors are placed even more closely together in places such as the Gorge to ensure potential issues are elevated as quickly as possible.

Transporting materials by rail, including crude oil, is a critical part of what keeps Washington rolling, Lovenburg says.

Rail transport is vital to Washington’s economy — $28.5 billion each year in positive economic impact, according to a recent study by the Washington Council on International Trade. This is crucial for a state where 40 percent of all jobs are tied to trade. Trains haul grain to our ports, aluminum and steel to our factories, plane fuselages and other parts to The Boeing Co., cement for our roads, and containers full of clothes, processed food, TVs, computers, furniture and many other products to consumers in Washington and across the nation.


We also haul hazardous materials, including chlorine that keeps our water supply safe, ammonia used to make fertilizer and crude oil that is refined in Washington to make gasoline for our vehicles and jet fuel for aircraft. We recognize the special significance that comes with hauling hazardous materials, and we take additional measures to ensure their safe transport. For us, nothing is more important than safely operating through the communities that we serve.

For more information about BNSF’s commitment to safety, read the testimony from Dava Kaitala, BNSF’s General Director of Construction Permitting and Senior Environmental Attorney, at the Vancouver Energy adjudication proceedings this month.