Business, Economics and Jobs

Environmentalists worry about oil spill as millions of gallons of oil cross Maine by train


US-Energy-Gas-Environment Shale gas burns at the Consol Energy Horizontal Gas Drilling Rig, exploring the Marcellus Shale outside the town of Waynesburg, PA on April 13, 2012. It is estimated that more than 500 trillion cubic feet of shale gas is contained in this stretch of rock that runs through parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia. Shale gas is natural gas stored deep underground in fine-grained sedimentary rocks. It can be extracted using a process known as hydraulic fracturing – or 'fracking' – which involves drilling long horizontal wells in shale rocks more than a kilometre below the surface. Massive quantities of water, sand and chemicals are pumped into the wells at high pressure. This opens up fissures in the shale, which are held open by the sand, enabling the trapped gas to escape to the surface for collection.


Mladen Antonov

Millions of gallons of crude oil are heading to Canada from North Dakota by train, the Associated Press reported. The oil, from the Bakken oil field of North Dakota, is crossing Maine in unprecedented numbers. Railroad companies in Maine are happy about the increased business. But environmentalists say that the train trips are risky.

People in the industry are celebrating the expected record year in US crude oil production, Bulk Transporter reported. Industry experts say that US crude oil production will to climb to 7.32 million barrels a day in 2013, and 10 percent of that crude oil comes from the Bakken field. 

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The oil is mostly transported by trains and trucks. “Trucks are the workhorses of the Bakken, and they are the moving billboards of the shale gas and oil industry,” John Conley, past president of National Tank Truck Carriers, announced at a conference.

But this isn't good news to those who aren't profiting from the boom. For starters, the more oil that's shipped, the more likely a spill becomes, according to the Sierra Club. 

What's more, there was already an oil spill caused by a train crossing Maine on its way to Canada from Bakken earlier this month. On March 7, an oil train pulling 15 full 33,000-gallon crude oil tankers derailed and spilled oil, Bangor Daily News reported. Just 3 gallons spilled, but the accident happened mere yards away from the Penobscot River. Smooth.