The terror in Paris on November 13 brings home our nation’s vulnerability to potential catastrophes from trainloads of explosives that roll along through cities, towns and waterways. Before 9/11 and Paris, before Al Qaida and ISIS, these trains were carrying maple syrup; now, it’s oil and a smattering of other explosives – Assad’s favorite, the chlorine; the always popular propane and anhydrous ammonia – rolling bombs waiting for a fuse to light us up and blow us away.
Oil trains are blind-spots in national security. We share a weak link in sustainable infrastructure as a result of dangerous freight, riding the rails through the hearts of our country. A rolling abundance of explosive Bakken crude is an open invitation for disaster because the cars are subject to penetration by contemporary products available online.
A 50-caliber bullet can easily penetrate an oil train car. A 50-caliber armor-piercing incendiary round turns an ordinary rolling train into a multi-billion dollar bomb, devastating a city with a pull of a trigger. They’re available online too. See video.
Burning oil trains wipe out a chunk of the built environment a mile wide and six miles long. Our cities are now target ranges with desperadoes waiting for some trains – bomb trains.
Crude oil isn’t the only hazardous commodity riding the rails. Clickity-clacking alongside crude oil are cars full of propane, chlorine gas and anhydrous ammonia. When the oil train fire meets the chlorine and propane cars, the terrorists will have their multipliers – the blast zone grows to 6 miles wide and 30 miles long. See map.
Imagine a national railway assault. Leaning in the windows above the rails with their 50-caliber rifles on tripods aimed at the track, they’re hanging fire until they get the word. The buildings around the railways offer an easy solution for those who include terror in their life work.
Some ground-zeroes offer great views right in the heart of the city, near shopping, stadiums, transit – panoramic and picturesque – where a sniper can get a whopping clear shot with angle of incidence to penetrate the tanker top between 80 and 90 degrees – nearly perpendicular for maximum popping.
DOT-111 cars are mostly filled with Bakken crude – over 1.1 million barrels a day last month; extremely volatile gases naturally belch out of Bakken crude as it sloshes along on the rail, far more explosive than most other types of crude, and they blend in the upper part of the cars – ethane, pentane, methane and butane.
A fifteen minute warning could reach all 19 teams of snipers in all 19 American cities, followed by updated directions – when 19 oil train explosions would also ignite other hazardous freight to maximize the psychic horrors in an instant. 19 triggers, 19 catastrophes. The West would be on its knees in the time it takes to make coffee, blown out by rolling bombs in an inside job.
While committees discuss track inspections and inspectors inspect tracks, a handful of folks who don’t like most of us very much could harm us all irreparably; regrettably we are facing a world where some folks are aiming to wait in the windows with a clear shot at the poppy tops of Bakken crude in DOT-111 cans rolling past. We are vulnerable.
Until we recognize our liabilities and vulnerabilities with our increased shipment of explosives by rail through the hubs of our country, we remain at grave risk of widespread catastrophe. Taking no action after Paris is not an option if we are to protect our major population centers from targeting by terrorists. Oil train bombs are a shot away, just a shot away.