Trains Carrying Oil Are Exploding—Find Out If You Live in a Blast Zone

Monday’s explosion of a tanker train in West Virginia is just the latest derailment as the drilling boom continues.

Smoke billows from a train derailment that caused a major explosion in the Rosedale neighborhood of Baltimore on May 28, 2013. (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)


Feb 17, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Todd Woody is TakePart's editorial director, environment.

The derailment and explosion Monday in West Virginia of a 100-car tanker train carrying crude oil is just the latest in a string of such accidents in recent years in the wake of the North American drilling boom. The CSX train, which was traveling from North Dakota to Pennsylvania, dumped oil into the Kanawha River. The accident came just a day after an oil train derailed in Ontario.

The question is, how close do you live to a potential oil train blast zone?

The environmental group ForestEthics tapped data from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to create an interactive map showing United States Department of Transportation evacuation and blast zones surrounding oil train lines. Punch in your address here to see how close you live to a potential oil train derailment.


“Oil trains are simply too dangerous for the rails,” Todd Paglia, ForestEthics’ executive director, said in a statement. “Whether it is explosive Bakken crude or toxic Alberta tar sands, this extreme oil cannot be transported safely by train. Twenty-five million Americans live in the blast zone, and nearly everyone else lives downstream of an oil train route.”

The map below shows recent oil train derailments.