Bakken Crude Routes in PA

Bakken crude oil routes in Pennsylvania

Bakken crude oil routes in PA map key

About the data

PublicSource relied on the following sources for our Bakken crude-by-rail map: Routes taken by trains carrying more than one million gallons of Bakken crude oil as reported by CSX and Norfolk Southern to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency; shapefiles of major railroad lines from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; granular census geographic and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau; data on counties (Census Bureau); a list of Pennsylvania hospitals and nursing homes provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and a list of K-12 public and private schools from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

We began by refining the railroads’ files. In May 2014, federal regulators ordered railroads carrying more than one million gallons of Bakken crude per train to give their routes to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. We analyzed those routes and excluded all railroad lines that CSX and Norfolk Southern did not designate as Bakken crude routes.

Once we had refined the rail lines, we were able to create a half-mile buffer zone around them on either side.  Merging this buffer zone with Census population data allowed us to identify the number of Pennsylvania citizens living within that evacuation zone.

With our half-mile buffer zone defined, we were able to then add data on hospitals, nursing homes and schools to determine how many fell within the zone.

We collaborated with the CREATE lab at Carnegie Mellon University to make the map interactive. You can zoom in and out to see whether your house, workplace or school is located within the federal half-mile evacuation zone.

PublicSource reporters Eric Holmberg and Halle Stockton helped analyze data for this story.

We’d like to add to this map as more information on crude oil routes in Pennsylvania comes to light. If you have any information on routes these trains take, please contact PublicSourceat 412-315-0261.

Sources: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania Department of Education

Map by: PublicSource and Carnegie Mellon CREATE Lab