Bomb Trains: Vice investigates the dangers of transporting crude oil by rail

After an oil train exploded in Lac Megantic, Quebec last year. (Flickr / EliasSchewel)

After an oil train exploded in Lac Megantic, Quebec last year. (Flickr / EliasSchewel)

In a new video report, Bomb Trains: The Crude Gamble of Oil by Rail, Vice News investigated the risk of crude oil–carrying trains exploding as they crisscross North America. That isn’t some hypothetical risk that could be realized down the road—it’s already happening. Last summer, forty-seven people were killed when an oil-carrying train exploded in a small town in Quebec, and in the year since, four more trains have gone up in flames in the U.S. and Canada. With so many train lines carrying oil through the hearts of American cities, Vice highlights safety concerns for urban areas and rural alike.

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Chicago Mulls Zoning Changes To Ward Off Mountains of Petcoke

Midwest, Newsletter
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
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Petcoke stored along the Calumet River on Chicago's Southeast Side, between 106th and 100th streets. (Josh Mogerman via Flickr)

Petcoke stored along the Calumet River on Chicago’s Southeast Side, between 106th and 100th streets. (Josh Mogerman / Flickr)

Piles of dusty, black waste from coal and petroleum processing have been piling up on Chicago’s southeast side, angering residents and prompting Mayor Rahm Emanuel to weigh in on the contentious environmental issue.

The Sun-Times has reported that Emanuel will introduce an ordinance at next month’s City Council meeting banning new storage facilities for so-called petcoke—a byproduct of the oil refinery process that can be sold overseas. It’s a step back from an outright ban proposed in December by Alderman Edward Burke, whose constituents were outraged by black dust clouds wafting from uncovered piles of petcoke along the Calumet River. Read More

University of Wyoming’s new energy building brings geology to life with 3D visualization lab

Midwest, Newsletter
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
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The University of Wyoming recently opened its new Energy Innovation Center, designed by HOK and GSG Architecture.

The University of Wyoming recently opened its new Energy Innovation Center, designed by HOK and GSG Architecture.

In crafting a building whose main goal is to make the study of natural resources accessible, architects from HOK and GSG did just that: they brought the outside in.

Its purpose is to study what’s buried beneath the earth’s surface, but the University of Wyoming’s Energy Innovation Center isn’t an underground bunker. Read More

New York City Targets Buildings’ Heating Oil to Improve Air Quality

East
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
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Hazardous smoke rises from a building using heavy oils. (Courtesy Environmental Defense Fund/Isabelle SIlverman)

Hazardous smoke rises from a building using heavy oils. (Courtesy Environmental Defense Fund/Isabelle SIlverman)

What’s your building burning? Some 10,000 buildings in New York City are stuck on the dirty stuff—heavy heating oils—to keep warm, which is polluting the air across the city. But as of the first of this month, the city has begun to phase out these feuls in favor of more environmentally-friendly and health-conscious alternatives. As part of plaNYC’s initiative to remake New York City with the cleanest air of any major U.S. city, NYC Clean Heat aims to achieve a 50 percent reduction in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by the end of 2013.

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> Edward Burtynsky: Oil at the Nevada Museum of Art

West
Monday, June 11, 2012
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Edward Burtynsky, SOCAR Oil Fields #6, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2006. (Edward Burtynsky)

Edward Burtynsky, SOCAR Oil Fields #6, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2006. (Edward Burtynsky)

Edward Burtynsky: Oil
Nevada Museum of Art, Feature Gallery South
160 West Liberty Street, Reno, NV
Through September 23

One of the most important topics of our time, oil and its industry serve as the departure point for the work of one of the most admired photographers working today. From 1997 through 2009, Edward Burtynsky traveled the world chronicling oil, its production, distribution, and use. Through 50 large-scale photographs, Burtynsky illustrates stories about this vital natural resource, the landscapes altered by its extraction, and the sprawl caused by the development of infrastructure needed to transport it. Behind the awe-inspiring photography is an epic tale about the lifeblood of mankind’s existence in the 21st century. Curated by the Center for Art + Environment, Oil forces the viewer to contend with the scale and implications of humanity’s addiction to energy.

More images after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Airy Museum, Printed Organs, Supermarket Scents, & Going Oil Free

Daily Clicks
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
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Aerial view of the Teshima Art Museum, lower left. (ArchDaily)

Open to the Elements. A recent collaboration between architect Ryue Nishizawa and artist Rei Naito produced an elegantly curved open-air art museum. Located in Takamatsu, Japan, the Teshima Art Museum is built from concrete and gently mirrors the hilly topography it sits upon. More info at ArchDaily.

Printed Organs. Three-dimensional printing sure is popular. We recently spotlighted the use of printing technology to create chocolates and solar cells, and now, 3D printing is crossing into the realm of medicine. The Wall Street Journal highlights technology that may soon enable printing of self-derived organs—think kidneys. While medical researchers have successfully “grown” organs through 3D printing, they are only structural and not yet functional, but scientists believe a breakthrough is nigh.

Olfactory Aisles. In a strange effort to boost sales, Brooklyn supermarket chain, NetCost Market, is now infusing its store aisles with food scents, such as strawberry in the fruit section and smoky bacon in the meat section, according to PSFK. While scenting clothing stores and movie theaters has been commonplace for a little while now, NetCost’s “food perfume” is taking olfactory branding to the next level.

Transport without Oil. The upcoming issue of Colors, a magazine published by clothing retailer, United Colors of Benetton, will center on transportation in a future without oil. Opening up submissions to the public, the Benetton website Colors Lab invited web users to upload artwork, photography, designs, and stories, envisioning new possibilities for transportation.

The Oil Spill Next Door

National
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
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At the rate of 5,000 barrels per day, it would take two days to create a Victorian-sized oil spill.

When trying to wrap his brain around the quantities of oil oozing into the Gulf, Hulett Jones of the San Francisco firm Jones Haydu reacted like an architect: He went to SketchUp and did some modeling. Haydu then extracted his ideas to a nifty YouTube video that comes to the clever conclusion that  One Victorian = 2 days of leakage. Wouldn’t it be great if news stories provided this sort of concrete analog for their data points? Edward Tufte would be proud. You can watch the video after the jump. Read More

Energy City

National
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
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Last year, the Center for Land Use Interpretation of Culver City, California, exhibited its study of the Texas oil industry: Texas Oil: Landscape of an Industry. The centerpiece of the exhibit was a 12-minute “landscan” video of the petrochemical infrastructure along the Houston Ship Channel—refineries, tank farms, pipe lines—the largest such installation in the world. Now, at long last, the CLUI has posted the video online, giving us another breathtaking perspective of this terrifying and beautiful landscape.

Hidden In Plain Site

East Coast, National
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
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Curbed LA points us to a new video series by VBS.tv exploring the unexplored nooks and crannies of the country called Uneven Terrains. And like all things carrying the Vice label, the web series is populated by airy hipsters with a certain indifference, and yet sometimes they turn up some really cool stuff. Case in point: the hidden oil wells of LA, including in Beverly Center mall and a nearby high school. Our pal Dakota wonders how the parents (“Won’t you please think of the children!”) could let such a thing happen, but given oil prices, how couldn’t you? After the jump, you can check out the “ruins” of New York—been there, done that—and our favorite, the Missile Silo home—most silos have been decommissioned, and many have been privatized[!!!]. They’re perfect for any fan of urban exploration and cutting edge music. Read More

Through The Channel, Darkly

Other
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
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We’ve blogged about the oil infrastructure in and around Houston, Texas, a couple of times: here and here. But we hadn’t managed to get a level view of the massive installation until stumbling across ship pilot Louis Vest’s time lapse video of a nighttime trip down the Houston Ship Channel aboard a 600-foot-long Panamax tanker. Vest strapped his NIkon D700 camera to an outside rail and programmed it to capture an image every six seconds, documenting a 3 1/2-hour journey cruising at 5 to 10 knots through this gloaming industrial landscape of exhaust stacks, burning lights, and gas flares. Mmmmm… Creamy!

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