Thursday, February 24, 2005

Railroad to Hell

A particularly alarming article appeared in this morning's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Pittsburgh railyards get more deadly cargo". Nothing like scaring the pants off of the readers before they have a chance to find out what is going on. What made our area a target for these mysterious death trains? And what are they transporting? Are we building up some kind of nuclear arsenal in Pittsburgh?

As it turns out, Pittsburgh is not being singled out as a good place to send radioactive, flammable, or poisonous materials. As the article states:

In the wake of the Madrid, Spain, train bombings in March, rail giant CSX quietly began diverting locomotives hauling potentially catastrophic amounts of deadly gases around the U.S. capital.

The bustling railyards in and around Pittsburgh, linchpin of the railroad's mainline through the Ohio River Valley, began receiving increased shipments of chlorine gas, anhydrous ammonia and other lethal chemicals that, if released, could kill, injure or displace tens of thousands of people.

So -- since one major western capital was the site of murderous train bombs, our capital had to be protected from similar attacks. If a train gets blown up, the damage is exponentially multiplied when nasty chemical substances are involved. These tankers could have been diverted anywhere to reduce the risk to D.C.; Pittsburgh just happens to be one of the more convenient detours on the CSX lines. The city of Washington went so far as to pass legislation barring these diesel death demons from crossing its boundaries, and Pittsburgh is getting inspired:

Some lawmakers, such as City Councilman Doug Shields, of Squirrel Hill, believe it's time to investigate Washington's decision. If the nation's capital can reroute hazmat to Pittsburgh, why can't the Iron City divert it around Shadyside, Oakland, Bloomfield and Hazelwood?
I am noticing a pattern here. Where will the trains go if major cities all start to pass anti-hazmat train legislation?
"We're not talking about diverting hazmat from around every city," said Fred Millar, a consultant who helped draft the Washington, D.C., ordinance. "We're not talking about 1,000 cities. We're talking about the 30 or 40 largest cities, the ones most likely to be terrorist targets and the ones most likely to have what are really weapons of mass destruction prepositioned for the terrorists right in the middle of heavily populated areas. Hazmat on the tracks is now the highest threat to citizens, which is why it makes no sense to let it into your city. It's safer for everyone if it's out in the country."
Does this idiot think that no one even lives "out in the country"? Or that nothing of importance originates from the country -- like, say, the food we eat? One begins to suspect that areas considered "safe" for hazardous cargo are marked in red on this map. Remember, red areas are "flyover country" and don't count to urban leftists.

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