Monday, November 02, 2015

Shipping chemicals by rail helps boost economies in coal-depressed Appalachia

The economic benefits of railway cars carrying potentially dangerous chemicals through rural areas far outweighs the risks, said a nationally recognized expert on rail safety, G. Chambers Williams reports for the Knoxville News Sentinel. David Clarke, director of the University of Tennessee's Center for Transportation Research, told Williams, "Yes, there is risk. But I don't feel we have undue risk from railroad movement of hazardous materials. Railroads are extremely safe." (Sentinel photo by Michael Patrick)

With the Appalachian coal industry in decline, trains carrying chemicals now ship products used for industries that provide thousands of jobs in East Tennessee, Williams writes. Richard Karn, director of chemicals marketing at the Florida-based CSX Transportation, told Williams, "Crude oil, natural gas liquids and frack sand have helped during the decline of our coal business. Chemicals, coal and intermodal are our three biggest commodities."

"CSX is optimistic about growth potential for the U.S. chemical industry, which has changed significantly in the past seven or eight years," Karn told Williams. "With increased volume of those chemical raw materials, we're among the most competitive regions in the world for producing petrochemicals, part of the shale revolution. Currently there are over $150 billion in capital investment products that have been announced within the U.S. chemical industry. Ten years ago, it might have been $5 billion." (Read more)

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