At first glance the small town of less than 8,000 inhabitants looks like typical country America, the kind of place that John Updike might once have written about. Except Cushing, in north-east Oklahoma, is very different.
On top of its human residents, it is also home to about 87 million barrels of oil storage. The biggest ocean-going supertankers carry about two million barrels. The Exxon Valdez spilled less than half that amount when it hit Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1989.
Now, more tanks are being built in Cushing as storage companies seek to increase stocks at lower oil prices.
Dr Riki Ott has seen most oil-related disasters at first hand. A campaigner for energy transportation reform since the Exxon Valdez, she sees the same convergence of risk and lack of preparedness in Cushing that she once saw in Prince William Sound: “It has all of the ingredients for a major disaster. Government and industry officials are misleading the public and hardly anyone knows about it.”