Thursday, April 24, 2014

Canada announces new safety rules for train cars carrying crude oil; still no deadline for rules in U.S.

The U.S. has been slow to update safety measures after several deadly crude-oil train explosions, Canada is moving forward. On Wednesday the Canadian government "ordered the country’s railroads to phase out tens of thousands of older, puncture-prone tank cars from crude oil transportation within three years," Curtis Tate reports for McClatchy Newspapers. In the U.S. the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has refused to set a deadline for new tank-car rules, even though the railroad industry petitioned for new rules three years ago. (McClatchy graphic)

In January the National Transportation Safety Board recommended tougher standards for shipping oil after more oil was spilled on U.S. railways in 2013 than in the previous 37 years. That doesn't include a crude oil derailment in Quebec, 10 miles from Maine, that killed 47 people. The train originated in North Dakota. The Association of American Railroads also urged U.S. regulators in November to require retrofits and upgrades for nearly 100,000 cars.

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"Transport Canada didn’t just require the retirement or retrofit of older tank cars. It also banned 5,000 DOT-111 rail cars made of inferior steel from carrying crude oil and ethanol within 30 days. Such cars could continue to haul those commodities in the U.S.," Tate writes. "Canada also required railroads to develop emergency response assistance plans for communities through which they ship hazardous goods. Such efforts are generally voluntary in the U.S." (Read more)

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