tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera June 4, 2015 10:30pm-11:01pm EDT
twitter and facebook and come back we'll have more of the "america tonight" tomorrow. i'm "ali velshi on target", crude awakening, a close call exposing a danger in neighbourhoods across america. relics on the rail. safety concerns over train cars older than many passengers. the deadly derailing of amtrak regional 188 in philadelphia killed eight, and
could have been worse. it's why that disaster is fuelling fears of a greater catastrophe. here is why. the tanker cars in the background from yards away from where the passenger train wept off the track. these cars were used to carry potentially vol itable liquid like crude oil. we know they were empty, but at the time less than a month ago. a massive explosion avoided. this time you see u.s. railways transport 10% of america's crude oil output around a million on rail tanker cars. that is a 55 increase. fuelled by the boom and opposition until you build pipe lines, like the controversial keystone xl. with the traffic comes the risk of rail accidents. two years ago in the canadian
town of lac-megantic a train derailed, triggering a fireball levelling much of the center of the town. how safe are the hundreds of thousands of residents who live near the cars and railways. over the past five years, the united states and canada have reported 11 fires, six explosions, nine evacuations and 47 deaths in lac-megantic. all related to the spike in oil-train transport seen in both countries. the tally of all u.s. oil train incident rose from one in 2009 to 144 in 2014. that crude awakening has agencies scrambling to contain the danger. mary snow has the report. >> reporter: this is a nightmare scrarn with cities asking what
if. this latest derailment was in north dakota. in february a train erupted into a fireball in west virginia and a month later in illinois. no one was hurt it's the accidents prompting environmentalist to sound the alarm. his wake up call came in 2014, when tankers derailed. though one was hurt no oil spilt. >> it made me realise what a near miss that was. >> a near miss because of the densely populated neighbourhoods within striking distance of train lines. every day trains like this come rumbling across the tracks. often they are carrying dozens of cars with volatile crude oil on them putting people in the park and community at risk and all up along the train lines. >> the group estimates 700,000 people in philadelphia and surrounding suburbs live within half a mile of evacuation zones.
and oil trains captured fire. officials dispute the number, saying it represents a worse case scenario. a number not in dispute between 31 and 65 oil trips like this passing through philadelphia each week. the reason there's opinion an increase in oil trains is the oil is headed to refineries like this on the east coast, and the refineries saw an economic revival in the last couple of years. it's a result of a boom in north dakota causing 1700% jump in the movement of crude by rail in the past four years. in cities like philadelphia the spike in oil heightened concerns not only because they run close to crowded areas, but rely on ageing infrastructure like this bioduct. pressure turn up on officials like samantha phillips who
heads the office of emergency management. >> i get the question why are you not re-routing the trains. i don't have the authority, the mayor doesn't have the authority. they are federally routed train lines. >> re-routing trains and the canadian counterpart - the rules come two years after the disaster in lac-megantic quebec when an oil train expired into a fireball killing 20. those tankers are phased out for stronger cars with quicker shelves. it will phase out. speeds will be reduced for oil trains moving through urban areas. >> the truth is 99.9% of shipments reach their destination safely. accident involving crude and
ethan ol showed us 99.9% is not enough. >> facing criticism, the transportation department clawed back a rule after protests that it was two weeks. the department will keep in place a programme to notify responders about a movement of train, carrying one million challengers or more. safety as a resultant fred millards says it does not go far enough and wants more confirmation about the movements of oil trains. the dot requires rail roads to acquire state and local officials a points of contact. miller says roots and volumes of dangerous cargoes should be made public. >> 100 car trains unit trains - to keep the secret. it's like having elephants tiptoeing through the units.
this is absurd. >> there's tensions about sharing response. >> it should share what it knows about oil train traffic. and they should be public input on what the emergency response plans are, and sharing them with the public so they can respond. >> philip said there's information for the public and resists on using too much of it. >> professionally they don't want to release a plan that could enhance an attack or put responders at risk. there's a risk that is clear, that the nation's boom created a new reality your foy cities asking what if. >> how much resistance is there to the regulations? >> there's a lot of resistance.
the oil industry went to court to file a legal challenge. on the other hands, environmentalist groups went to court, saying they are too slow. then the rail roads say that they object to the new requirements. they suggest that the railways and companies putting them on tank cars, they are not in charge of that shippers are. it illustrates how complicated this is. >> i want to bring the viewers attention to philadelphia and the bridge, who is in charge of this. >> csx. this is a bridge built in the 1920s, there has been chunks of con concrete falling. csx says it's sound. they are putting in effort to improve the bridge but it under scores infrastructure investment. railway said hold them.
infrastructure is not a part of the rules. >> i'm glad they say structurally intact. it looks a mess. next putting the brakes on a system maybe argue will prevent the nightmare scenario of a multi-car crash. i talk to an ndser who argues it's not worth it. are costs standing in the way of your safety? old demons... >> i am really really nervous... >> lives hanging in the balance... >> it's make or break... i got past the class... >> hard earned pride... hard earned respect...
>> from going pro, >> i never know that was really a possibility. >> to becoming president of the us tennis association. >> we're about getting rackets in children's hands... >> building the game... >> ...sky's the limit for growing tennis in america. >> and expanding access to play... >> at the end of the day it's about the kids... >> every tuesday night. >> i lived that character. >> go one on one with america's movers and shakers. >> we will be able to see change. >> gripping. inspiring. entertaining. "talk to al jazeera". only on al jazeera america.
one million barrels a day of crude oil is shipped by rail 50 times what it was five years ago. the oil tankers are rumbling through residential neighbourhoods. no one in america as died from an accident involving oil by rail less than two years ago an oil train exploded in lac-megantic in california and killed 47. new safety regulations were issued mandating thicker shells reducing speed limb, calling for a better and safer electronically controlled braking system. not all that soon. by 2021. many in the railroad industry want to put the brakes on the breaking system. the federal railroad administration says it could cost 1.7 billion - not cheap much patricia the have vice president of the association of american rail roads says it's just not worth it.
thank you for being with us. anthony foxx department of transportation says pneumatic breaking systems offer a higher level of safety than current systems. saying: sounds compelling. is cost the only reason you don't like the system. >> the freight rail industry doesn't like the e doctor. p braking system. dot could not make a safety case for the regulation. there's no data that warrants or justifies the regulation and people are not talking about the fact that trains today have sophisticated braking systems. brags have not factor into the crude oil accidents that occurred in the united states. frankly, ecp brakes do not
protect accidents. and preventing accidents is what we have you focus on. >> we look at lac-megantic, and many times we see a car, train derailing we see cars backing up because they can't brake fast enough they buckle and go off the tracks. that is what we are worried about solving? >> no crude i will accident or derailment has been effected by brakes that failed the trains. what we should focus on is preventing accidents, and because of the breaking technology that exists we should for example resource attentions and preventing accidents. >> you opposed the department of trappings 30 mile an hour speed limit. again, you are saying that very few train accidents are caused
by breaks. when you look at the crash, i don't want to yes if it's canada or the u.s. don't we want to never have that - 47 died there. actually the dot regulations called for a 40 mile an hour speed limit. for crude. ethanol, and people have to realise that freight trains here already operate at low speeds. we self impose the speed limit. we did it before government regulations came down. thing about it. most of the rail track in the united states is single track. there's no passing lanes in railroad land. when you have an oil train going 40 miles per hour 30 miles per hour, and i'd like to point out that oil accounts for 1.7% of
traffic, we moved 2 million trains across the network, and crude oil is a small proportion. it's a lot less impact of the when a train carrying wheat derails. >> let me point out about the speed. when a train grows, 40 miles or less, all the other trains behind it. not just freight, but passengers go slow. of course network fluidity would be affected by the speed limits. if things happen that cause oil to become more expensive. it makes the other pipe line more attractive. both pipe lines and freight rail roads are well equipped to carry as much oil as is needed. >> good to talk to you, thank you for talking to us.
it's been over three weeks since amtrak derailed in philadelphia. investigators are not sure what caused the accident the the train as travelling faster than it should have. investigators found no sign of trouble with the tracks the signals or the breaking system. the train engineer who was injured cannes remember anything about the accident. with no evidence to point to officials are blaming each other and amtrak officials. paul beban has our report. >> reporter: his voice cracking with emotion, the head of amtrak
vowed to make rail travel safer. >> i believe the greatest contribution that railroaders can make to the industry is to implement ptc as rapidly as possible. i promise you that by the end of this year, this system that will enhance safety will be complete and operational on the n.e.c. >> reporter: ptc or positive train control is the technology that could have presented the derailment on the quarter line near philadelphia. amtrak installed it along parts of the track from boston to washington but not where train 188 went off the rails. >> this committee expects answers, families are owed answers, i think the american public is looking to make sure that rail is safe across the
nation. tuesday's hearing was tense and confrontational, with republicans and democrats taking shots at each other over the pace of the investigation, and over funding for railroad safety. quite a number of people died in preventible accidents around the country because of the lack of positive train control. human area. that is what it is designed to prevent, human error. this was probably human area. the question is why his train was going 106 miles an hour. >> he told investigators he can't remember anything about the accident. they are looking at his.
they haven't figured out if he was using the phone, making calls or texting in the motels leading up to the crash. it's hard to imagine why the engineer was utilizing a cell phone at the time of the crash. seems like it could be a simply answer. amtrak officials defended a safety record, noting that the last fatal accident on the busy corridor was 28 years ago. >> we run a safe railroad. it substance to be our top priority. there were a lot of questions about the train cars involved. one of them completely shattered, others macquarie bankled. what emerged in the area is the cars in the rec date pack to 1975 and weren't built to modern safety standards, and the
reason they haven't been replaced is the railroad is trying to replace other cars built in the 1940s. >> paul beban joins me now, let's go back to the investigation. engineer fatigue is a question that comes up. what do we know? >> schedules are gruelling. they have been pushing for a second engineer or operator in the cab judge, but in a -- cabin, but in a question of human area is another human going to cover the problem. they keep coming back to the system that everyone says will produce actions like this. >> it's doing something. not the absence, if the train is moving forward it's because... >> that speaks to the question - they did not have protection in this section of the track. they never anticipated that the train would accelerate out of the station. they have something called auto matting train control, but it's not working.
just the south bound side. ed ride amtrak several times a week. i was surprised to learn the train cars were from the '70s and they had more from the '40s request 50s, and '60s. amtrak said they had $21 billion to do what they need not replacing tunnels. >> they are talking about choke points, a bridge in baltimore that will fail. they spent winter chipping ice. $21 billion is to get it up to modern standard just to get it to where it should be not to say how much more they could be doing. >> that doesn't get us faster trains, you and i were talking about china. what's the comparable number. >> we will spend a billion in change. china - 120 billion in change. they are building freight. this is a new system. >> you have an advantage as
opposed to repairing an old one. >> let's talk about the engineering and text. what do we know about it. >> this is what republicans will be hammering at. why can't they look at it and say he was texting and he wasn't. he was sending emails and he wasn't. the response from the national transportation safety board is we have to correlate the records with cell phone companies. there's a lack of transparency. the response was we are not going to release anything until we know everything. it was strange. >> thank you for that. >> greeks ongoing financial tragedy took a weird twist. the greece owe international creditors more than $9 billion, strung out over the next three months. greece was supposed to pay $335 million instalment to the i
mf. it was threatening to withhold this possible and withhold future payments unless the i.m.f. and european negotiator came to an agreement on an 8 billion bailout keeping its finances going. without an infusion of cash greece has no money to make payments, without stiffing greek pensioners and other recipients. in a move today, greek officials said they'd defer payments until the end of june and bundle it with other payments totalling $1.7 billion. this little used option to defer, bundle and defer payments has not been invoked since the 1980s. the i.m.f. accepted the proposal and the action is technically not a default on its debt obligations even though it will not make a payment. greece detected the option even though it relieved pressure. greece worried that doing it to
the world meant that it has run out of money. greece has run out of money. they are far from reaching a deal. they are adamant that they make cuts. we are still far from reaching a conclusion. major sticking points are greek's pensions and how to cut them. greece's financial tragedy has been deferred. it will go back to haunt it. a financial watchdog tells me why some of america's banks should have been allowed to fail. especially by early 2009 you could have explored strategies replaced boards and managers. we didn't do any of that which i thing was one of the most poorly run banks.
it was heavily involved. you did that with g.m. whether it is yet to be seen creditors took losses. there were discipline imposed. we didn't do that. a key lesson. book and a key lesson for the crisis was it was driven by too much borrowing, big banks borrowed too much. home owners were borrowing too much. that was a big problem. >> also, yes, they didn't behave possible. we had government intervening in the market. fanny and freddie, not so much securitizing the mortgages, but buying the wall street security issuing cheap mortgage back securities, we had banks. there was a lot of degrees of leverage, they said to us part of the crisis, you know, new aim, golden age of banking.
we have it right. we will manage and be stewards of the economy. that turned out to be nonsense. >> you'll hear more from sheila here some "on target" at 10:30p.m. that's our show for today. i'm ali velshi thank you for joining us. massive data breach. hackers access a u.s. government agency again. this time potentially stealing personal information for millions of current and foreign workers. secret surveillance days after congress curbed the powers of the n.s.a. new revelations the agency's operations were more extensive than previously known. fracking investigation. scientists