Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Transportation Safety Board says oil tanks should be able to withstand high heat from a crash or blast

"The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday that new oil tank train cars should come with much stronger ability to withstand high heat and pressure from a crash or a blast," Jad Mouawad reports for The New York Times. New federal safety rules still being debated are not expected to take effect until 2017.

"But the safety board said the new measures needed to be significantly strengthened and to include more robust thermal protections, like a ceramic thermal blanket on the cars," Mouawad writes. "The board also called for increased capacity of pressure relief valves. The safety board said that in the four oil train derailments this year, a total of 28 CPC-1232 tank cars failed, either because the train derailed or because a fire or excessive pressurization caused by high heat made the cars rupture."

The U.S. Department of Transportation in October 2014 proposed a two-year phase-out of older tank cars, but the oil and rail industries said that wasn't enough time. BNSF Railway announced last month that it will reduce all oil train speeds to 35 mph through municipalities with 100,000 or more more residents until its customers phase out old, single-hulled DOT-111 tank cars, which is expected to start in May.

More oil was spilled from trains in the U.S. in 2013 than in the previous 37 years, and 47 people in Quebec died from the derailment of a train running from North Dakota to Maine. A recent rash of derailments has led Canada to propose rules to toughen tank-car standards.

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