A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

So what’s the stuff in those black tanks?

Written March 30th, 2024 by Hasso Hering

This line of tank cars headed south past the Queen Avenue crossing on March 20.

On a bike ride this month, I stopped at the Queen Avenue crossing to let a Union Pacific freight go by. Standing there, I wondered about all those tank cars heading south.

As you can see, the tank cars were painted black. “Procor” was the name painted on the sides. And as for the contents, the painted labels on each car said they carried “liquefied petroleum gas.” Some said the contents were “non-odorized liquefied petroleum gas.”

Procor, it turns out, is the name of a Canadian company that leases around 31,000 tank cars and other kinds of railroad cars. Its head office is in Oakville, Ontario, I learned when I looked it up.

The company’s tank cars carry all kinds of stuff from petroleum and renewable fuels to chemicals, fertilizer, LPG and even food. And liquefied petroleum gas or LPG was the stuff in the tanks I watched rolling across Queen Avenue.

LPG, I also learned from looking it up, is composed mostly of propane and butane recovered during the extraction of oil and natural gas. Some of it is a byproduct of oil refining.

It’s used in heating and cooking and as fuel for vehicles. It can also be used as an aerosol propellant.

I have no idea where the LPG in those tank cars was going or where it came from, or indeed whether the cars were full or empty. But if they were full, I would guess that the shipments might have come from Canadian oil fields or refineries in Washington state.

Trains with tank cars like these pass through Albany all the time. It took only a few minutes for this one to clear the crossing and the gates to come up.

My thanks to the Union Pacific and Procor for giving me a few minutes to rest on my ride, and to wonder about just what was rolling past where the bike and I stood. (hh)

You can get a pretty good look at passing rail cars from the safe side of the crossing gates.

17 responses to “So what’s the stuff in those black tanks?”

  1. Steven Embree says:

    I fail to understand what exactly is the point of this articl.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      It’s an article by our wonderful “man-about-town” writing about anything & everything that intrigues him. We are much the better for it!

    • H.R. Richner says:

      Some of us are fascinated with observing the lifeblood of our country moving before us. A freight train without graffiti is a rare and beautiful sight. Thank you, Hasso.

    • ELMarTiLLo says:

      it’s called filler , Old article lying around the office for years to be used when there is not enough news they want to share .

  2. FRANK W. BRITTAIN says:

    It does make you wonder what other chemicals and compounds run through Albany and other Oregon towns. Have to wonder also do companies have to let these towns know what’s going through.

    • Jason says:

      No, but the local fire department should have a hazmat book on how to handle the hazmat in case of emergency

  3. Jason says:

    Look at placard number and you can look up what it is carrying

  4. David Prechtel says:

    What we learned here was Canadians apparently don’t waste their money on spray paint.

  5. Akh2oguy says:

    What is the big deal? Tank cars have been pulled by trains for years. What’s nice to know is the the cars in this day and age are probably double-walled tanks. Rest easy little campers!

    • LilyK says:

      Might want to reach back to the not-so-distant past – the train derailment in East Palestine OH was a major disaster for the people of that community.

  6. CHEZZ says:

    Hasso, on the scene of the railroad crossing – and reporting! I love it!

  7. Don says:

    A few years ago you could see the same type of tank railcars with the name COVID on them. Kinda makes you wonder what those carried

  8. david pulver says:

    i check in everyday to see what hasso has found. most always something interesting.

  9. USW Brother says:

    Wah Chang has enough liquid chlorine in rail cars to kill all of Albany if it released. You can see the rail cars on google maps. South end by the lake. You wont have enough time to get out.


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