Crude oil being hauled by rail needs to be shipped in stronger tank cars and on safer routes, safety agencies in the U.S. and Canada said Jan. 23, following a series of accidents in North America.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Canadian Transportation Safety Board (TSB) issued joint recommendations Jan. 23 as part of the probe of a July crash in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, that ignited an inferno and killed 47 town residents.
“In the course of our Lac-Mégantic investigation, we found three critical weaknesses in the North American rail system which must be urgently addressed,” Wendy Tadros, chairwoman of the TSB, said in a statement. “Today we are making three recommendations calling for tougher standards for Class 111 tank cars, route planning and analysis and emergency response assistance plans.”
Other accidents involving crude include a crash of a BNSF Railway Co. train carrying Bakken formation crude in North Dakota last month and a Jan. 20 CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX) derailment that included railcars carrying crude near the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.
“The large-scale shipment of crude oil by rail simply didn’t exist 10 years ago, and our safety regulations need to catch up with this new reality,” U.S. NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said in a statement.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx last week met with officials from the railroad and oil industries to come up with an agreement to spend 30 days examining whether crude-hauling trains should be rerouted or slowed when moving through risky locations, and where would be safest places to put locomotives when assembling trains. Railcar suppliers complained about being left out of the meeting.