Neighbors concerned about parked train cars on city's north side

Posted at 6:28 PM, Jul 06, 2016

MILWAUKEE -- More than 300 tank cars parked near 35th and Capitol are bringing up a lot of questions right now. Are they filled with crude oil?  Could they explode?

"Citizens have a right to know why hundreds of tank cars with 1267 placards, indicating they have highly explosive crude oil, are being stored at this location," says Eric Hansen with Citizens Acting for Rail Safety of Milwaukee.

The group gathered near the train storage yard Wednesday morning. They want to know why the tankers are parked there, near homes and schools.

Beth Sahagian owns Vanguard Sculpture. She says, "it seemed like one morning I woke up and there was a black wall behind my building. The trains are so close that I can read the small print on the side of the trains."

Citizens Acting for Rail Safety formed right after a deadly explosion in Canada. The blast happened 3 years ago Wednesday. The force leveled the downtown area, killing 47 people. 

The explosion was caused by a crude oil train that went off the tracks.  Days earlier, that train had passed through Milwaukee.

"Oil trains are too dangerous for rail. The railroad systems in our cities were not laid out for explosive cargo in mind,'' says Hansen.

Wisconsin & Southern Railroad owns the tank cars in question.

In a statement, a company spokesperson says the cars are not considered oil tank cars. They are used for hauling chemicals, liquids, syrups, and sugar.  These particular cars have been cleaned, are empty and ready to be pulled into service.

Wisconsin & Southern Railroad does not haul any crude oil whatsoever. No harm or threat exists to neighbors or to the community.