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The Cost Of Gas: Recent Texas Oil Boom Creates Safety Hazards

Photo of Daniel Horowitz

Texas and the rest of the country have benefited from a rapid increase in domestic energy production in the past few years.

North America's energy boom comes at a large rice however -- Politico reports that oil train accidents have skyrocketed in the in the last few years.

There were 118 oil train incidents last year, up from 9 incidents in 2010 and one incident in 2009.

The total damage from train accidents topped $10 million for the first part of 2014, which is double the rate of losses than the prior five years combined, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Oil and gas transportation issues dominated international headlines last summer when a runaway oil train crashed and blew up the town of Lac-Mégantic, in Quebec, Canada. The ensuing blaze killed 47 people and took over a day to control.

"There's been such exponential growth in the excavation of this crude oil that it's basically outrun our normal systems," said Quebec Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, adding that his department is working on the problem.

Politico cites several reasons for the increase in North American oil train accidents including: lack of regulation, decaying rain infrastructure, and lax safety standards at energy companies.

"It has become abundantly clear that there are a whole slew of freight rail safety measures that, while for many years have been moving through the gears of bureaucracy, must now be approved and implemented in haste," said Sierra Club staff attorney Devorah Ancel.

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