CSX moves crude oil through heart of Baltimore, documents show

Crude oil is moving straight through Baltimore, new documents show

CSX Transportation moves up to five trains, each carrying 1 million gallons or more of a kind of crude oil, through Baltimore weekly, according to records released Wednesday by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The CSX trains also move through eight other counties in Maryland. Competitor Norfolk Southern Railway runs as many as 16 trains carrying 1 million gallons or more of the crude oil each week through Cecil County, the records show.

The federal government began requiring companies that ship large quantities of so-called Bakken crude oil to notify state emergency officials about their movements in May 2014, after several rail accidents involving the highly flammable fuel. Several media outlets, including The Baltimore Sun, filed public information requests for the documents submitted in Maryland by CSX and Norfolk Southern.

When the Maryland Department of the Environment informed the railroads that it planned to accede to the media requests, the railroads sued to block the release, claiming the documents contained confidential commercial information that could raise security risks if disclosed. The department withheld the documents pending the outcome of that litigation.

Last month, Baltimore Circuit Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill ruled the documents must be released because "there is no likelihood that disclosure … would cause substantial competitive harm."

The Sun has previously reported on the path of Norfolk Southern's crude oil shipments through Cecil County based on information from Amtrak and accounts from local residents. The total volume of crude oil moving through the state has been publicly available from the MDE's Oil Control Program.

Crude shipments also have been known to go through storage facilities in South Baltimore's Fairfield neighborhood, where environmental and neighborhood activists recently rallied against the state issuing a permit for a new crude oil operation there.

However, precise information on the routes and the number of trains each railroad moves through the state on a regular basis had been unavailable.

The new records show for the first time that CSX moves crude oil across the state, through the heart of Baltimore and through Allegany, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Harford, Howard and Washington counties.

CSX officials previously told The Sun that only empty crude oil containers are moved through the Howard Street Tunnel.

CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle said Wednesday: "Our highest priority is the safe movement of these shipments, and we will continue to work with state agencies and first responders to ensure they have the information they need to work effectively."

krector@baltsun.com

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