TribLIVE

| Business

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Railroads back proposal to retrofit flammable liquids tankers

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

Comments welcome

Public comments on the proposed rules are welcome. They can be submitted at http://1.usa.gov/17VXnqi.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

OMAHA — Proposed safety standards for rail cars that haul flammable liquids gained support from railroads on Thursday, but it's not yet clear whether the companies that own most of those cars will support the upgrades to prevent leaks.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is considering a plan intended to fix a dangerous design flaw in a rail car commonly used to haul oil and other hazardous liquids from coast to coast.

Safety experts say the soda-can shaped car, known as the DOT-111, has a tendency to split open during derailments and other major accidents.

Concerns about the tank cars are high because of the fiery train crash in July in Lac Megantic, Quebec — near the Maine border — that killed 48 people and because railroads are hauling significantly more crude oil.

Railroads are supporting new safety standards for rail cars that haul flammable liquids to address flaws that can allow crude oil, ethanol and other substances to leak during accidents.

The Association of American Railroads said on Thursday that railroads support making upgrades to the fleet of 92,000 tank cars that carry flammable liquids. Of those, 14,000 are newer cars built to current safety standards.

“We want to aggressively move on phasing these out,” Ed Hamberger, president of the railroad trade group, said of the older cars.

Hamberger said the new standards can help make the tank cars safer, but better cars are only one part of the overall effort to ensure safety.

It is an opportune time to improve safety standards because many oil producers and refiners are investing in new cars to handle the surge in domestic oil production. The number of carloads of oil that railroads are delivering jumped to 233,811 last year from 10,000 in 2009, and in the first nine months of 2013, railroads delivered 319,901 carloads of oil.

Railroads generally don't own the tank cars. The oil and chemical companies that own them will likely comment on the proposed rule before the agency's Dec. 5 deadline.

An agency spokeswoman said officials want to gather as many comments as possible. A final rule isn't expected until next year.

The proposed changes include requiring cars to have a thicker steel shell, better heat protection and better protection for valves on the tank cars. The rules would require high-capacity relief valves and new designs to prevent outlets on the bottom of the car from opening during an accident.

Last year, The Associated Press reviewed 20 years of federal rail accident data involving DOT-111 cars used to haul ethanol and found that the cars had been breached in at least 40 serious accidents since 2000. In the previous decade, there were just two breaches.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. Shell shovels millions into proposed Beaver County plant site
  2. Extended oil slump takes toll
  3. Off-duty but on call: Suits seek overtime
  4. When it comes to home ownership, Hispanics finding locked doors
  5. Muni bond funds stressed
  6. Companies hand out perks, benefits instead of pay raises
  7. Of Caitlyn Jenner and workplace restrooms
  8. Bond funds hold onto cash
  9. Tech Q&A: Why you should test your router
  10. FirstEnergy to build coal waste processing facility in Beaver County
  11. Small business hangs on fate of Export-Import Bank