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Canada Ups Rail Tanker Safety Standards

DOTThe Canadian government has issued rules phasing out the type of puncture-prone tank-car that was involved in a fatal train crash last summer in Quebec.

The directive forces railroads to stop the use of, or refit, the least crash-resistant, older-model DOT-111 tank cars from dangerous goods service within three years. The rule affects around 65,000 tank cars currently in use in North America, reports Chemical & Engineering News.

Other new directives mandate rail companies to provide emergency response assistance plans for crude oil, gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, and ethanol to local municipalities and fire departments. The Canadian Government is also requiring rail companies to reduce the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods and implement other key operating practices.

The actions stem from recommendations made by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s initial recommendations regarding the ongoing investigation into the Lac-Mégantic train derailment last summer in which 47 people died and 30 buildings were incinerated.

Last week, a CSX train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames in Virginia. The train, which was carrying oil from the Bakken shale in North Dakota, had two locomotives and two cars and was traveling to Yorktown, Va., Reuters reports.

Thirty percent more crude was spilled from US rail cars in 2013 than in the nearly four previous decades combined, according to US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration data, released in January.

An analysis of the data by the Washington Post found railroads spilled 800,000 gallons of crude oil between 1975 and 2012. Last year, trains spilled more than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil. The data does not include incidents in Canada.

About 80,000 rail cars don’t meet safety standards and need to be updated or replaced, the CEO of railcar maker The Greenbriar Companies said in January. William Furman said that “modest but meaningful” fixes could immediately reduce the risk of a hazardous materials leak by up to 80 percent in derailments.

Picture Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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