Metro, News

Ethanol train runs off tracks into multi-lane road

Local environmental activists call on Providence to end transportation of ethanol

By
Senior Staff Writer
Sunday, March 12, 2017

An ethanol train ran off its tracks around 1 a.m. Wednesday in the south side of Providence. The train crashed through a chain-link fence and into a multi-lane road, but no ethanol spilled as a result of the incident, the Providence Journal reported.

In response to the derailment, some local environmental activists are calling for an end to ethanol transport through Providence. Ethanol is “explosive and extremely flammable,” according to a joint-press release from the Fight Against Natural Gas collective, Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, the Sierra Club and No LNG in PVD.

“It is not okay that south side Providence is the sacrifice zone for these toxic and dangerous industries,” said Monica Huertes, a member of No LNG in PVD and resident of South Providence, in a quote included in the press release.

The press release dubbed ethanol trains “bomb trains” and called on Providence to ban ethanol transport through the city, just as Boston did in 2015.

Though Boston banned licensing of ethanol-carrying vehicles through its boroughs in its 2015 budget, the ban expired in January 2017. Subsequent budgets did not extend the ban.

Two days after the Providence crash, an ethanol train ran off its tracks in Iowa. The crash caused a fire that continued for 15 hours, the Associated Press reported. In a 2015 report, the Department of Transportation predicted oil and ethanol trains would derail about 10 times per year in the coming two decades, the Associated Press reported.