Monday, November 09, 2015

Walker's Wisconsin Derailments!

A year ago last week Wisconsinites tripled down on one of the worst bets made in our history and now it is literally affecting our Public Health, Safety and our Environment. This weekend two train derailments occured in the Badgered State. 13 oil tanker cars carrying the dangerously volatile Bakken Crude that has caused deaths in accidents elswhere derailed in Watertown and spilled 1,000 gallons of oil causing the evacuation of 35 residences. In Alma, more than 2 dozen cars derailed spilling 20,000 gallons of ethanol into the Mississippi River. Booms have reportedly been deployed to contain the ethanol. However ethanol, unlike oil which floats, is water soluable and doesn't float so the skimming booms are essentially useless, color it escaped.

Both of these derailments have indefinitely delayed Amtrak passenger trains (and presumably freight traffic) and that is where the culpability of our infamous Gubnah is obvious. Wrong Way Walker, in complete ideological blindness, turned down federal funding for passenger rail between Milwaukee and Madison costing our state both money and jobs. Another WWWalker Epic Jobs FAIL! That federal funding would have fixed the rails that pass through Watertown to accomodate 110 MPH high speed passenger service. Currently there are long stretches of these rails so badly degraded that speeds are limited to 35 miles an hour for safety. It didn't WORK WALKER!

Those rails are also used by freight trains that move commerce through Wisconsin and between the rail hubs of Chicago and the Twin Cities so the funds for passenger rail would have fixed the rails used by these oil tankers AND improve our economy and infrastructure, but no. Way to go WWWalker! The rails where the train in Alma derailed and spilled were slated to be part of a second phase of upgrades for passenger rail between Chicago and Minneapolis. But WWWalker's Myopic Job-Killing Actions Derailed that Project Too!

I suppose the people of our Badgered Land could be excused for electing WWWalker once, after all, he hid his Scapegoating, Bomb Dropping Divide & Conquer intentions from voters in 2010. I suppose they can even be forgiven for falling for his Billionaire Backed Barrage of Garbage a second time. But the election for a third time of the Most Divisive Figure in Wisconsin Politics since Joseph McCarthy is unforgiveable as too many in America's Dairyland are Utterly incapable of telling a "Rascal" from a Hole-the-Ground. In SO Many Ways The Results Are In, Wisconsin is literally coming OFF-THE-RAILS!


ksiyoto said...


The Alma derailment was on the BNSF on the east side of the Mississippi. That track is not used for Amtrak trains, and is not slated for upgrades. Amtrak runs on the CP Rail track on the west side of the river from La Crosse to the Twin Cities, and that track is the one that would have been used for high speed rail.

However, the Watertown derailment occurred on the current Amtrak route and is part of the line that would have been upgraded for the 110 mph service.

In terms of impact, the ethanol spill in the Mississippi is probably close to irrelevant. A couple of 30,000 gallon tank cars of ethanol is not going to raise the BAC of the fish very much when diluted across a mile wide river with humongous flow. The ethanol was probably denatured with 5% gasoline, so the bigger problem was the gasoline.

However, the crude in Watertown is a much more serious matter, since that stuff is ridiculously flammable, and the derailment is essentially within town.

And be aware that the cause of these derailments is not known yet. Both were on relatively flat territory, so train handling dynamics is unlikely. However, equipment failure, such as a broken wheel or axle could have been the cause, and track might not have been an issue. On the other hand, it could have been nothing but poor track quality. We don't know yet.


Sean Cranley said...


Thank you for the correction on the Alma tracks. I also agree with you about the minimal impact of the alcohol. And even the gasoline will quickly breakdown. I'm admittedly betting on the poor quality tracks. But regardless, the turning away of funds to upgrade Wisconsin infrastructure specifically and the pencity of WWWalker and Republicons to put off investment in infrastructure generally (except for the road builders lobby) is just plain ideologically ignorant and short-sighted.