Surge in oil railcars create worry in US towns

As trains hauling crude oil across the United States and Canada become a more frequent sight, officials in small towns and cities are growing increasingly worried over possible derailments, the Associated Press reports.

In July, the crude train that derailed in Lac Megantic, Quebec, further stoked the fears of officials in U.S. towns.

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Since 2009 the number of carloads transported by U.S. railroads has drastically escalated, from 10,840 to an estimated 400,000 this year.

"It's a grave concern," said Dan Sietsema, the emergency coordinator in northeastern Montana's Roosevelt County, where oil trains pass through the city Wolf Point regularly.

"It has the ability to wipe out a town like Wolf Point."

In a review of federal hazardous material accident records, the AP found they involved small quantities of oil.

And Railroads say 99.997 percent of hazardous materials that are shipped arrive at destinations safely.

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