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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Bill would set lower pressure standards for trains carrying oil

UPDATED: Mon., March 4, 2019

OLYMPIA – Trains carrying crude oil through Spokane and the rest of the state to Washington refineries would have to keep it under lower pressure under a bill supporters say will reduce the chance of catastrophic accidents.

On a 27-20 vote, the Senate sent to the House a bill that Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, called “an active step in reducing the threat” of Bakken oil. That crude oil is carried on trains that pass through downtown Spokane in sight of Lewis and Clark High School, hospitals, medical buildings and senior living facilities, he said.

The bill requires the oil in the tanks be loaded, unloaded and stored with vapor pressure below 9 pounds per square inch. The standard was set because in a Canadian derailment, the only tank of crude oil that didn’t explode was at 9 psi.

But critics of the bill argued lowering vapor pressure does not lower volatility, and the vapor is collected, processed and marketed at refineries at Anacortes. Restricting Bakken crude on trains would mean more oil tankers bringing the oil into the Puget Sound to deliver to refineries, they said.

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