Friday, March 13, 2015

Canada proposes tougher oil tank car standards after four derailments in Canada and U.S.

A string of fiery crashes involving tank cars used to transport crude oil has led the Canadian government to propose tough new standards requiring "cars to have outer 'jackets,' a layer of thermal protection and thicker steel walls," Rob Gillies and Joan Lowry report for The Associated Press. There have been four oil train derailment in Canada and U.S. in the past month, and 47 people died in a derailment in 2013 near Quebec. (Bloomberg photo by David Paul Morris)

"The requirements are tougher than the oil industry wanted," AP reports. "But the proposal doesn't include electronically controlled brakes that automatically stop train cars at the same time instead of sequentially, which are opposed by freight railroads. Regulators said they will take that issue up separately." The U.S., which has been working closely with Canada on its regulations, is expected to announce final regulations in May.

New standards were enacted after the 2013 derailment near Quebec, "but safety officials on both sides of the border called for even stronger measures after fiery derailments continued to happen despite the new tank cars standards," AP reports. "The newest standard calls for a hull thickness of 9/16th of an inch, up from 7/17th of an inch and makes thermal jackets mandatory. The thicker the shell, the less oil a tank car can hold, and with about a half-million carloads of crude hauled by rail in the U.S. and Canada last year, the cost difference could add up." (Read more)

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