Spokane Nixes Vote to|Ban Oil & Coal Railcars

     SPOKANE, Wash. (CN) — Washington state regulators will implement new rules for oil car shipments in the state, shortly after the Spokane City Council backed down on a proposal to fine railroad operators $261 for each oil or coal car that comes through the city.
     Starting Oct. 1, railroads in the Evergreen State must have contingency plans on how to immediately respond to a spill from an oil car should one occur. The new rule from the state Department of Ecology had applied only to oil shipments via vessels and pipelines, but now will apply to rail cars as well. A separate rule passed by the department in August also requires facilities receiving oil by rail to notify authorities, helping spill responders and emergency crews to prepare for potential incidents.
     “Washington has built a strong program that prevents and responds to oil spills in Washington waters,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “This rule ensures that railroads have the same high-quality plans long required for vessels so that our natural resource areas in the inland areas of our state are protected.”
     The state mandate comes on the heels of a Spokane City Council decision to pull a measure from the November ballot that would have banned oil and rail cars coming through the city. If voters had approved the council’s measure, the ban would also have included fining rail operators over $200 per car for violations.
     However, city leaders reversed their decision in a 5-2 vote on Aug. 15, citing the likelihood of a successful legal challenge by railroad operators.
     Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said he now believes the proposed fine would expose the citizens to too much legal liability, according to reports from the Spokesman-Review.
     Councilman Breean Beggs, also an attorney, and Councilwoman Lori Kinnea voted to keep the measure on the ballot.

%d bloggers like this: