Submission Number: UBR-DEIS-00421 

Received: 1/26/2021 3:11:40 PM
Commenter: Walter Dandy
Organization: 
State: Colorado

Agency: STB
Initiative: Uinta Basin Railway EIS
Attachments: No Attachments
Submission Text
Does any information exist on how waxy crude, if spilled into mountain streams in carload quantities, would behave in fast cold water and what the short and long term impacts would be? I'm picturing flow as it raises the river temp, and while it retains enough of its own heat for fluidity. Then it will gradually resume a waxy solid consistency. Is the density above or below 1.0? So will it sink or float? It won't all do the same thing at the same time. If it is dense enough, some will probably get anchored on the bottom and on boulders. Some will respond to the strong currents and go a long way. Seasonal considerations will be immensely important. Imagine complexity of recapture during spring runoff. So once it is solid, it will stay solid. Will there be mechanical erosion from fast water and suspended sand, etc? Water is a universal solvent, and we know in a hundred or five hundred years the hydrocarbons will be gone. But what will the interim interactions be with the sensitive organisms of these riparian biomes. What is the complete chemical profile? How are the requirements for filtering river water to make it potable going to be altered? (I doubt it will be business as usual for Eagle River Water and Sewage.) How many households will be at risk on the Eagle, on the Arkansas? Will the oil congeal and accumulate into a new kind of dam on the river? As water backs up behind these, and then releases, will there be unaccustomed flash flood exposure? Since only 3% of our oil moves by rail, and in light of the unique nature of this waxy crude, how do we know these questions, and lots more, have been rigorously examined? Are there historic disasters of relevance? A nice thing about the Valdez spill is it all went to one long, somewhat accessible beach. How do you even get men and equipment down mountain white water with steep banks? How do you get the oil out and away? What we do know is the track record of Tennessee Pass. It is one of hard luck. It is one of the steepest grades in country. Gypsum in the soil makes the substrate of the railway an ever-shifting one. Elevation reaches perhaps 11000 feet subjecting it to extraordinary winter temperatures. It is subject to the frequent and unpredictable descent of boulders-some house sized-in spring and avalanches in winter. All of the track is just up-hill of the river for scores of miles. I think I can understand, given the sensitivity of our drinking water source, and the long history of train wrecks on this stretch, why the Union Pacific has chosen to attempt to obfuscate the real reasons for returning this stretch to freight use by using a surrogate lessee pretending to seek milk run freight and family picnic passenger excursions. I hope you can examine interstate implications of this in their entirety.Do you know that we finally have at least two nesting pairs of Bald Eagles on the Eagle River in Eagle County? Prior to ten years ago, no one alive had first hand exposure to the species that gave the place and the river their names. What do you want the future to hold, we must wonder.