|Oil car derailed over Schuylkill R. in Philadelphia Jan. 20|
"The Association of American Railroads, an industry group, estimates that railroads shipped 400,000 carloads of crude oil last year," Tate reports. "That’s more than 11.5 billion gallons, with one tank car holding roughly 28,800 gallons. Last year’s total spills of 1.15 million gallons means that 99.99 percent of shipments arrived without incident, close to the safety record the industry and its regulators claim about hazardous materials shipments by rail."
But in eight years from 1975 to 2012, no spills were reported, and in five years reported spills amounted to one gallon or less, Tate writes. In 2010, a reported 5,000 gallons spilled, and in 2011 and 2012, less than 4,000 gallons spilled each year. Even if you exclude the 750,000 gallons spilled in Alabama spill, and 400,000 in a North Dakota spill, the 2013 total still amounted to more than 11,000 gallons, well above previous years. (Read more) (McClatchy graphic: Crude oil spills in the U.S. in 2013. For an interactive version of the map, with other years, click here)