TORONTO — Canadian officials said Wednesday the nation was phasing out the type of rail tankers involved in last summer’s massive explosion of a runaway oil train in Quebec, killing 47 people and prompting intense public pressure to make oil trains safer.
Canada’s transport minister said the DOT-111 tankers, which are used to carry crude oil and ethanol and are prone to rupture, must be retired or retrofitted within three years. Transport Minister Lisa Raitt’s announcement comes about nine months after more than 60 of the tankers carrying oil from North Dakota derailed in Lac-Megantic. At least five of the tankers exploded, leveling about 30 buildings.
Since then, trains carrying oil also have exploded and burned in Alabama, North Dakota and New Brunswick. Accident investigators in both Canada and the U.S. earlier this year implored their governments to impose new rules.
The DOT-111 makes up about 70 percent of all tankers on the rails. But concerns surrounding the tanks are not new, and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has been urging replacement or modification of the cars since 1991. The more recent, fiery explosions have brought the public’s attention to the problem.
Raitt said the least crash-resistant of the older DOT-111 tank cars, about 5,000 of them, must be removed from the rails immediately.