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Bainbridge city council passes oil train resolution

The city of Bainbridge Island joined 11 Washington jurisdictions Monday after the council passed an anti-oil train resolution.

During Monday’s meeting, the Bainbridge city council voted unanimously to approve a resolution that calls for stronger regulations, more impact studies and a request that federal and state officials prevent the expansion of oil shipments by railroads.

“Bainbridge Island has long been a leader on environmental issues, and given our vulnerability as an island community, I’m particularly pleased the council has taken a public stand,” Councilman Val Tollefson said.

Members of Climate Action Bainbridge — formerly known as Coal-Free Bainbridge — first brought the issue to the council’s attention this spring.

Islanders note that ever increasing shipments of oil by train have led to safety and environmental tragedies. Since July 2013, there have been five major derailments, including an explosion in Quebec that killed 47 people. The number does not include smaller incidents, such as a recent derailment in Seattle.

With 53 miles of Puget Sound shoreline, Bainbridge Island is particularly vulnerable to potential derailments.

With this, the resolution urges a number of changes in federal and state regulations for railroad oil transport:

• Increased safety standards at the federal level for oil tank car design and operation; an aggressive phase-out of older model tank cars which are not retrofitted to meet new federal rules.

• A collaboration between the Washington Department of Ecology, Military Department Emergency Management Division, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Coast Guard and local emergency response entities to assess the impact of oil trains traveling along Puget Sound and in Washington on public safety, the environment and economy.

• A statewide pause in permitting projects that encourage the expansion of oil train export until environmental and safety impacts are studied and addressed.

The resolution also directs Bainbridge’s city manager to review state and regional resources for response plans in the event of an oil spill into Puget Sound.

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