But since shipping crude oil by train is relatively new, there’s not enough statistical information about oil train accidents to do risk calculations, the consultants said several times in the risk assessment.
“There aren’t a lot of people who have the expertise to do this type of analysis,” Posner said.
Dagmar Schmidt Etkin, president of Environmental Research Consulting, declined to answer questions about the risk assessment.
Calls to Main Line Management, which is working under Schmidt Etkin, were not returned.
But critics say the risk assessment – which includes work by three Texas consultants who are former BNSF Railway employees and count the railroad as a client – is based on generic accident data, and likely lowballs the risk of a fiery derailment in Spokane and other communities on the trains’ route.
The consultants didn’t use accident data from oil train wrecks when they calculated the low probability of a derailment and spill.