CLOSTER - Dozens of people crowded a railroad crossing in Bergen County on Saturday to protest oil trains.
Rail cars full of Bakken crude oil are being shipped through the county, which residents say is a disaster waiting to happen.
The oil boom in North Dakota has increased the number of trains carrying Bakken crude oil. The company CSX transports 3 million gallons through Bergen County each week. A company spokesperson says CSX does all that it can for safety.
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Resident Trisha Sheehan told the protesters that she knows what rail disasters can do. In 2012, she lived two miles away from a train derailment in Paulsboro that spilled toxic vinyl chloride. Thousands were exposed, including Sheehan's family.
"Had that been Bakken crude oil, there would have been lots of lives lost," Sheehan says. "Children were walking over those railroads on their way to school when the train had derailed. Then, they walked back through the cloud of vinyl chloride."
Some residents don't agree. Westwood resident Stephen DiSalvo says, "We've had trains here for over 100 years. We've had no massive issues with deaths or anything like that and we have lots of chemicals that have been accounted for."
Some residents say the bigger issue is the use of oil in general. Residents say our society needs to develop renewable sources of energy.
New Jersey has three major projects facing opposition. In addition to oil trains, the proposed Pilgrim oil pipeline and PennEast natural gas pipeline are dealing with public pressure.