Railroad group supports proposal for safety standards on rail cars
OMAHA, Neb. — Proposed new safety standards for rail cars that haul flammable liquids gained support from U.S. railroads 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 higher now 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.
U.S. 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 Thursday that railroads support making upgrades to the fleet of 92,000 tank cars that carry flammable liquids. Of those, 14,000 cars 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.
Railroads generally don’t own the tank cars. The oil and chemical companies that own them will also likely comment on the proposed rule before the agency’s Dec. 5 deadline.