Nearly 20 percent of the state’s population, 183,047, live in evacuation zones (one-half mile) for an oil train derailment along 3,368 miles of track, the audit noted. It stated that included 47 hospitals/medical centers, 169 fire stations and 353 schools.
From 2010-2014, Montana ranked 21st in the U.S. for train incidents with 177 reported during that time period. Total damages were $43.3 million and cost per incident was $246,100. The largest number of incidents (6-10) were in Yellowstone County, according the the state audit.
The transport of oil grew substantially from 2008 to 2014, the audit noted. In 2008, there were 9,500 carloads of crude oil. In 2013, there were 407,761 and in the first half of 2014 there were 229,798. Even though the oil boom has eased, the audit notes the oil shipments are above the 2008 numbers.
A report released in October by the Legislative Audit Division faulted the PSC for not identifying rail safety risks, not having a safety plan, not having enough inspectors to adequately cover the state and not participating in regional safety issues. It said the agency is not actively engaged in rail safety, and its lone goal seems to be meeting a minimum number of inspections each year.
The report also found there’s a lack of statewide emergency planning and hazardous-material response capability should an oil spill occur. It recommended more coordination with local, state and national planners, as well as adding a third inspector to check rail lines, cars and engines.
As is the case throughout the region, the park’s native populations of federally protected bull trout have suffered from years of predation and out-competition by introduced lake trout. Bull trout are also at risk for hybridization with non-native brook trout, producing less resilient and often infertile offspring.
TU is still worried about Tintina’s amount of data on fishery populations, groundwater recharge and arsenic levels. The DEQ addressed these aspects little or not at all in their deficiency report. The 90-day review period stresses the DEQ’s staff of six, especially because they are also reviewing other permits simultaneously, [Montana TU Executive Director, Bruce] Farling said.
The DEQ did not flag fisheries as needing more data, which worries Trout Unlimited.
On Tuesday April 19, Colin Cooney, with Montana Trout Unlimited will present a program on the proposed Black Butte Mine on Sheep Creek in the headwaters of the famous Smith River. If you haven’t heard, the Smith is currently at risk from a proposed copper mine in one of the primary and most productive tributaries of the Smith. Now anglers and recreationists are waging an all out battle to keep the Smith from harm. Colin will present information you will need if we are to stop this dangerous and unneeded mine. If you’re interested, you can contact Colin at email@example.com
The waste and secrecy inherent in this process is bad enough, but the environmental consequences of this decision are potentially enormous. The FDA has failed to fully examine the risks this new species of salmon may present to wild salmon—and the environment—should it escape into the wild, which even some supporters of the FDA decision acknowledge is inevitable
We are deeply worried that state regulatory agencies will be unable to catch problems before they turn into disasters. Usually, environmental disasters can be traced back to a government agency that has done too little too late. This has been the recent track record of both the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation when it comes to protecting our river resources. Does DEQ have the financial resources and the technological expertise to closely monitor and regulate this mine? How much manpower can they devote to this mine? And what would they do when the mine either pollutes or diminishes the groundwater in an area that is already water-limited?
Dams thwart salmon migration, degrade water quality, alter water flows, and contribute to fish diseases and algae bloom problems. Three tribes depend on the fish for subsistence and ceremonial needs, and a fourth hopes fish will return once the dams are removed.