Rail association, DOT agree on new oil-by-rail safety measures
Washington – In response to recent derailments, many railroads that ship oil will begin taking new safety precautions this year, under a new agreement between the Department of Transportation and the Association of American Railroads.
Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx recently met with AAR to discuss concerns about derailments and transporting oil from the Bakken Formation. A Jan. 2 advisory from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration warned that oil from the formation may be more flammable and prone to explosions than “traditional” heavy crude oil.
Among the new voluntary measures:
- One additional internal track inspection per year on rail routes with trains transporting 20 or more cars of crude oil
- New brake technology for faster braking and to help prevent train cars from piling up
- A maximum speed of 40 mph in high-threat urban areas for trains carrying at least one explosion-prone DOT-111 rail tank car
- Careful selection of routes for trains carrying large crude oil shipments to avoid safety-sensitive areas
Most of the measures are scheduled to go into effect between March and July.