Saturday, April 18, 2015

Safety Regulations Issued for Trains Carrying Oil

Oil fields in North Dakota. Recent derailments involving crude oil trains have often resulted in explosions and oil spills. (Credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times) Click to Enlarge.
Responding to public pressure to act more quickly after a series of fiery train derailments involving oil shipments, the Transportation Department on Friday issued a series of emergency orders, including a 40-mile-an-hour speed limit for hazardous materials moving through urban areas.

The emergency rules also require railroads to provide detailed information about a shipment within 90 minutes of any derailment.

Federal regulators are under increasing pressure from members of Congress and local officials to publish new safety regulations for the growing business of transporting crude oil by train. Those new rules, in the works for more than two years, were sent to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget two months ago.  They are expected to be made public by May 12.

In a statement, Anthony Foxx, the transportation secretary, said that the boom in crude oil transportation “poses a serious threat to public safety.”  He said the orders reflected “lessons learned from recent accidents,” adding, “we are not done yet.”

There have been more than two dozen derailments involving crude oil trains in the last two years, often resulting in explosions and oil spills.  Safety officials have warned that tank cars are not safe enough to transport potentially flammable materials.

The National Transportation Safety Board said on Monday that the new generation of crude oil tank cars must be better able to withstand the high heat and pressure from a crash or a blast. The safety board said that recent crashes underscored the “significant vulnerability” to fire of current tank cars.

Read more at Safety Regulations Issued for Trains Carrying Oil

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